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Smart Power Grid Technology may be Vulnerable to Hacking


Smart grid technology like management systems in the power plants - may suffer from hacking, as per scientists who delved with "nightmare" situations where the hackers take advantage of weaknesses in security and then executed a troublesome plan of cyberattacks.


Electrical grid reliability measures have risen towards a new norm because it involves cybersecurity as well as physical security. Chicago.suntimes.com posted on February 8th 2017, stating that threats to any of them can cause instability which can lead to economic losses and blackouts.


Associate Professor of Michigan Technological University, Chee-Wooi Ten, said: cyber security did not simply exist ten years back - it was not even discussed and it was not any problem. He added that, "now hackers can plan for a cyberattack that can cause larger power outages, people are starting to grasp the severity of the problem." Chee-Wooi Ten also said that the gap between intangible software and physical equipment is the fundamental problem.


Hackers target particular parts of power infrastructure's control network, and they emphasis on the mechanism which control it. Most of the electrical grid from generation to transmission to use was controlled by the automatic systems but not having any solid security measures; thus also making the systems exposed.


Researchers said: "most of us take turning the lights on for granted." He further added that the energy we receive from electrical grid for illuminating homes, watching TV and freeze food is actually a part of the widespread and complicated system.


Ten suggested that: "with a better understanding of the system's weaknesses, it's easier to be strategic and shore up security risks. In the long run, improving regulations with specifics to match actual infrastructure needs and providing cyber security insurance will help."


Ten said, it does not mean that remote substation networks were secured just because they are always commissioned with the full compliance. He further added that, "there is going to be a tremendous impact if we're negligent and fail to keep up with changes in communication infrastructure and emerging security threats."


Interconnectedness of grids may also result in cascading impacts, which leads to failure of equipments, blackouts as well as islanding where the regions are cut off and become isolated from main power grid. The researchers drew connections and evaluated weaknesses by using a framework, which would access bottleneck of power grid and also its interconnection with their adjacent grids.

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