Report: A Smart Grid Is a Hackable Grid

If you build it, they will hack it. That's the message from researchers at the IEEE SmartGridComm2010 conference, who warned that grid hackers could make money or mayhem by going after substations' data. While the dumb grid has many oft-cited problems, adding more digital sensors and controllers to it may make it more vulnerable to attack.

Attackers could manipulate power-grid data by breaking into substations and intercepting communications between substations, grid operators, and electricity suppliers. This data is used by grid operators to set prices for electricity and to balance supply and demand, the researchers say.

Grid hackers could make millions of dollars at the expense of electricity consumers by influencing electricity markets. They could also make the grid unstable, causing blackouts. The attacks would be difficult to trace, according to Le Xie, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Texas A&M University, speaking at the IEEE SmartGridComm2010 conference in Gaithersburg, Maryland, this week.

Vulnerabilities have existed in some grid systems for decades. But the threat is becoming worse as more substations become automated, and unmanned, making it easier for an attacker to access grid data. As utilities move over to open communications standards, as part of the migration to the "smart grid," it could get even easier to intercept communications or hack into systems remotely.

Via Jason Pontin, read the full story at Technology Review.

Presented by

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Technology

Just In