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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Smart grids may be prone to cyberattacks

Smart-grid networks that depend heavily on technology both for energy efficiency and for better management of electricity consumers are vulnerable to cyberattacks that can endanger entire cities, industry findings show.  Ann Whyte, a spokeswoman for Defense Support Services LLC (DS2), a Lockheed Martin and Day & Zimmermann company, said suppliers that are planning to install electricity smart meters in every home by 2020 need to adopt new power-line communications technology to ensure the grids remain safe from cyberattacks.

The United States marked October as a month of cybersecurity awareness, but analysts said the rest of the world still needs to catch up on the full implications of new security risks posed by technologies that are open to attack by hostile forces.

This [enhanced information exchange betweem the suppler and the customer] will enable utilities to combat fraud, introduce effective real-time management of the grid and slow down their investment in new energy generation capabilities, a DS2 study said.

However, any vulnerability in the smart grid could have an impact on that utility’s energy distribution grid, which could result in power cuts, and could be used by hackers and fraudsters to gain access to consumers’ private personal information.

So, alongside high-speed communications and robust features, what the smart grid also requires is cybersecurity—the protection required to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the electronic information communication system.

It said that expansion of the networks increases the complexity of the grid, which could expose it to potential attackers and unintentional errors.

Posted on 12/08