Smart power grid technology may be prone to hacking, claims study

Smart power grid technology may be prone to hacking, claims study

Smart grid technology – such as management systems in power plants – may be prone to hacking, say scientists who delved into “nightmare” scenarios where hackers exploit security weaknesses and execute a disruptive plan of cyberattacks.

Reliability measures of electrical grid has risen to a new norm as it involves physical security and cybersecurity. Threats to either can trigger instability, leading to blackouts and economic losses.

“Most of us take turning the lights on for granted. In reality, the energy we draw from the electrical grid to brighten homes, freeze food and watch TV is part of a complicated and widespread system,” researchers said.
“Understanding that system’s vulnerabilities and reliability is a crucial step towards improving its security,” they said.The fundamental problem is a gap between physical equipment and intangible software, said Chee-Wooi Ten, from Michigan Technological University in the US.

Advances in smart grid technology – such as smart meters in homes, management systems for distributed energy resources like wind and solar production along with instrumentation systems in power plants, substations or control centres -create improvements in entry points for hackers.

“Ten years ago, cybersecurity simply didn’t exist – it wasn’t talked about and it wasn’t a problem,” Ten said. “Now with events like in Ukraine last year and malware like Stuxnet, where hackers can plan for a cyber attack that can cause larger power outages, people are starting to grasp the severity of the problem,” he said. Ten points out that hackers target specific parts of the control network of power infrastructure and they focus on the mechanisms that control it. Read  More…

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