Thursday, October 01, 2009

SCADA Watch: Australian Energy Company's Virus Outbreak a Threat to Power Grid

Asher Moses writes in The Age:

A virus outbreak is wreaking havoc with Integral Energy's computer network, forcing it to rebuild all 1000 of its desktop computers before the "particularly sinister" bug spreads to the machines controlling the power grid.

A spokesman for Integral Energy, a major energy supplier, confirmed that the company had called in external information security experts to "rebuild all desktop computers to contain and remove the virus".

The malware had not affected power supplies to customers or business data and was "contained within Integral Energy's information technology network", the spokesman said.

But Chris Gatford, a security consultant at Hacklabs who has conducted penetration testing on critical infrastructure, said there was often "ineffective segregation" or "more typically none at all" between the IT network and the network that monitors and controls the infrastructure.

He said the two networks often needed to be connected in some way in order to share data such as usage information that is used in the billing process or quality of service measuring.

"The risk of having a virus in this type of environment is it might affect the operation of the power grid if the virus was to infiltrate the process control network," said Gatford.

More here.


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