Thursday, October 22, 2009

SCADA Watch: 'Smart Grids Are Like a Hacker's Wet Dream'

Angus Kidman writes on

"Smart grids are like a hacker's wet dream," IRA Winkler, president of Internet Security Advisors Group, told a press briefing at RSA Conference Europe in London this week.

The essential problem is that smart grid devices like intelligent power meters are PC-based and are thus subject to all the vulnerabilities of any computer system. "Smart grids are essentially computers that have a special purpose," Winkler said.

An added complication is that the means of updating smart grid equipment when vulnerabilities are detected is not clear. "If somebody finds a single vulnerability, who is going to be responsible for upgrading it?"

While electricity networks are often government regulated even in markets like Australia where power supply is being privatised, that doesn't necessarily simplify the issue, Winkler said. "Just imagine if the government said 'We are sending government agents to update all your systems.'"

Overall mistrust of computer reliability might also be a problem, Winkler suggested. "Do you want that smart grid in your house to be able to reboot?"

More here.


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