Smart Grid Fear: Can Hackers Can Take it Down Causing Massive Blackouts?

March 23, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Cyber security experts came out this week warning that the new high-tech electrical Smart Grid is vulnerable to hackers, the way it is presently designed. Experts fear that hackers with a mere $500 worth of readily available electronics equipment, and the right computer skills, can easily hack into the smart grid system, causing nation wide blackouts. These dire warnings come as the country is poised to expand Smart Grid technology using the $4.5 billion in Stimulus funds made available by President Obama.

The utility industry claims it upgraded its systems to detect power outages after the lessons learned from the massive blackout of 2003, which disrupted power to nearly 50 million people along the eastern seaboard. Utilities also claim the enhanced Smart Grid technology will actually make it easier to detect and prevent potential power outages. Cyber security experts are not so sure. Critics contend the expansion of the Smart Grid should slow down, while security experts and the Homeland Security Administration develop security standards.

Currently, there are no set security standards in place for Smart Grid technology, and security experts fear once the infrastructure is in place, it will be harder to make the needed changes to safeguard it from an attack by cyber criminals. The dire scenarios are frightening. Determined cyber criminals could potentially set off a blackout that could spread across the entire United States, causing untold disruption and panic, bringing the country to a standstill.

Smart Grid technology is based on the use of advanced, wireless sensor networks, two-way communications and the installation of millions of new “smart” meters in people’s homes. The Smart Grid system is likened to placing the electrical system over the Internet. The automated meters have “smart” thermostats alerting homeowners of the cost of their electrical usage throughout the day. A quick press of a button and homeowners can get a quick readout of their current usage and even compare it to last month’s bill. Utility companies and environmentalists see “smart meters” as the wave of the future in saving money and conserving energy.

Still, for all of its potential benefits, cyber experts fear the Smart Grid, at the moment, is too vulnerable to an attack from cyber hackers. Experts want to see a security plan in place; before the wholesale expansion of the Smart Grid infrastructure puts our country at risk for a massive blackout.



4 Responses to “Smart Grid Fear: Can Hackers Can Take it Down Causing Massive Blackouts?”

  1. met on March 23rd, 2009 11:02 am

    yes, the world is a dangerous place and crappy things can happen… now can we progress please?

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  3. John Franks on March 23rd, 2009 11:50 am

    Run to the library and read the last chapter of the book “I.T. WARS: Managing the Business-Technology Weave in the New Millennium.” That chapter is called “What’s At Stake”, and is a treatment of huge vulnerabilities involving utilities (water, power, policing, etc.) and systems (banking, communications, hospitals, food production and distribution, etc.) in the event of natural and man-made attacks and disasters (including EMP – Electro-magnetic Pulse). This interview is phenomenal, and touches on it at the end – – but you really need to read that last chapter – Chapter 21 – in the book. Highly recommended – and really, it’s a word to the wise; the whole book is a solid investment for business.

  4. Joe on April 8th, 2009 11:01 am

    This could be really bad for us if we are not prepared! Wow could you imagine the effect of this?

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