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
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
Commissioning lighting control systems; 2016 Commissioning Giants; Design high-efficiency hot water systems for hospitals; Evaluating condensation and condensate
Solving HVAC challenges; Thermal comfort criteria; Liquid-immersion cooling; Specifying VRF systems; 2016 Product of the Year winners
MEP Giants; MEP Annual Report; Mergers and acquisitions; Passive, active fire protection; LED retrofits; HVAC energy efficiency
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing Arc Flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Putting COPS into context; Designing medium-voltage electrical systems; Planning and designing resilient, efficient data centers; The nine steps of designing generator fuel systems
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.
click me