Wednesday, October 06, 2010

One Reason Why Obama's "Smart Grid" is Such a Stupid Idea

President Barack Obama’s talk about the need for a “smart grid” sounds, well, smart...As currently envisaged, however, it’s a dangerously dumb idea. _SciAm
President Obama tends to be attracted to ideas that sound good on the surface, but which are incredibly stupid and destructive at their core. The so-called "smart grid" is yet one more in a long line of such stupid and destructive ideas coming from the Obama White House.
The problem is cybersecurity. Achieving greater efficiency and control requires hooking almost every aspect of the electricity grid up to the Internet—from the smart meter that will go into each home to the power transmission lines themselves. Connecting what are now isolated systems to the Internet will make it possible to gain access to remote sites through the use of modems, wireless networks, and both private and public networks. And yet little is being done to make it all secure.

The grid is already more open to cyberattacks than it was just a few years ago. The federal government has catalogued tens of thousands of reported vulnerabilities in the 200,000-plus miles of high-voltage transmission lines, thousands of generation plants and millions of digital controls. Utilities and private power firms have failed to install patches in security software against malware threats. Information about vendors, user names and passwords has gone unsecured. Logon information is sometimes unencrypted. Some crucial systems allow unlimited entry attempts from outside.

As the power industry continues to invest in information technology, these vulnerabilities will only get worse. Smart meters with designated public IP addresses may be susceptible to denial of service attacks, in which the devices are overwhelmed with spurious requests—the same kind of attacks now made on Web sites. Such an attack could result in loss of communication between the utility and meters—and the subsequent denial of power to your home or business.

The smart grid would also provide hackers with a potential source of private information to steal. Just as they use phishing attacks to elicit passwords, credit-card numbers and other data stored on home computers, hackers could find ways of intercepting customer data from smart meters. A sophisticated burglar might use these data to figure out when you’re away on vacation, the better to rob your house.

Customer data could also give hackers a way to bring down the grid. Smart meters injected with malware, for instance, could disrupt the grid just as networks of PC botnets—home computers hijacked by viruses—now disrupt the Internet. A network of drone smart meters could cause a swath of the grid to power down, throwing off the grid’s electrical load. The imbalance would send large flows of electricity back to generators, severely damaging them or even blowing them up. _SciAm

The integrated electronics in the "smart grid" will also make the Obama Grid more prone to devastating damage from an EMP attack or a solar storm.

In uncertain economic times such as the current Obama Depression, it makes more sense to toughen the power grid to make it more resistant to hacking and the various forms of catastrophic failure. Instead, it seems almost as if the Obama regime wants to make the US more vulnerable, rather than less.

cross-posted to Al Fin

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