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 Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
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
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.