Smart Grid could be vulnerable to hackers

Several reports point to the vulnerability of the Smart Grid.


CNN recently reported that "the high technology, digitally based electricity distribution and transmission system known as the 'Smart Grid'" could be vulnerable to hackers, and "until the United States eliminates the Smart Grid's vulnerabilities, some experts said, deployment should proceed slowly."

The system "will use automated meters, two-way communications and advanced sensors to improve electricity efficiency and reliability," and the concept has been embraced both by the current administration and by utilities, which "are installing millions of automated meters on homes across the country, the first phase in Smart Grid's deployment."


A recent project from security consultancy IOActive "determined that an attacker with $500 of equipment and materials and a background in electronics and software engineering could 'take command and control of the [advanced meter infrastructure] allowing for the en masse manipulation of service to homes and businesses.'"


IDG News explained that the IOActive "researchers created a computer worm that could quickly spread among Smart Grid devices, many of which use wireless technology to communicate." And, "in the hands of a malicious hacker, this code could be used to cut power to Smart Grid devices that use a feature called 'remote disconnect,' which allows power companies to cut a customer's power via the network. IOActive briefed the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security on its findings Monday and is advising the utilities industry to better test the systems before deploying them in the real world."


BusinessWeek adds, "According to a report in the National Journal last year, hackers in China may have already used what little infotech intelligence there is on the current power grid to cause two major U.S. blackouts."


According to experts, "crucial to maintaining security will be establishing industry standards. At the smart grid policy meeting held last week, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) chairman Jon Wellinghoff issued a statement calling for the development of “standards to ensure the reliability and security, both physical and cyber, of the electric system.”


While FERC doesn't itself develop standards, the agency will be asking for input from standards bodies that work on security in the Internet, engineering, and electronics industries."


A "second factor needed to secure the smart grid will be an open platform."


CNet , EETimes, and ZDNet also reported the story.

No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Choosing controllers: PLCs, PACs, IPCs, DCS? What's best for your application?; Wireless trends; Design, integration; Manufacturing Day; Product Exclusive
Variable speed drives: Smooth, efficient, electrically quite motion control; Process control upgrades; Mobile intelligence; Product finalists: Vote now; Product Exclusives
Machine design tips: Pneumatic or electric; Software upgrades; Ethernet advantages; Additive manufacturing; Engineering Leaders; Product exclusives: PLC, HMI, IO
This article collection contains the 5 most referenced articles on improving the use of PID.
Learn how Industry 4.0 adds supply chain efficiency, optimizes pricing, improves quality, and more.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security