Malicious intent possibilities with smart grid systems

On a small scale neighbour could turn off another neighbour’s power supply. Moving up rogue groups could cause widespread power outages or co-ordinate power outages to attack sensitive facilities. At the largest scale governments could remotely shut down smart meters to meet energy saving targets or to control national dissent.

It has been reported that only 300,000 or 12% of Pacific Gas & Electric’s 2.5 million installed smart meters have their remote disconnect function disabled. Therefore these meters in Northern California could be disabled remotely. This could result in the utility disabling meters for minor infractions such as missing a one bill payment.

Alternately, a computer worm could be used to move from meter to meter. Then control all the meters in the grid by remotely shutting down the meters or affecting communication between the utility and the consumer. Or hackers could impersonate meters to inflate bills, lower bills (energy theft) or get into the utility’s network and steal data or commit a large scale attack.

Inguardians and Industrial Defender have identified numerous attack sites for the smart grid. Therefore, a cyber security solution for the grid must be able to prevent and resolve attacks quickly before several attacks collectively disable a system. A multi-layered approach to security is needed using several anti-attack strategies. As it is inevitable that some smart meters will become compromised, this is not an area for utilities to scrimp on and make cuts.

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