Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

Smart Grids Offer Cyber Attack Opportunities

Hackers are likely to exploit the 440 million potential targets researchers predict smart grids will offer by 2015.




Image Gallery: IBM Empowers Smarter Cities
(click for larger image and for full photo gallery)
Is your home electricity meter the next device you have to worry about getting hacked? Researchers at last week's IEEE SmartGridComm2010 conference in Gaithersburg, Md., warned that as utilities transition to greater use of smart grids, their increased two-way communication would leave consumers and suppliers open to more forms of cyber attack. In fact, by 2015, they estimated, the smart grid will offer up to 440 million potential points to be hacked.

Why mess with someone's home heating bill? One significant worry is that intercepting and manipulating smart grid data could provide attackers with the means to benefit financially, said Le Xie, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Texas A&M University, according to published reports.

For example, utilities typically plan their energy requirements one day in advance. An attacker who manipulated apparent energy demands, forcing utilities to turn to emergency -- and more expensive -- energy resources could likewise place safe bets in the energy market. "The virtual trader basically gambles against the price difference between the day-ahead market and the real-time market," said Xie.

Beyond financial remuneration, other leading attack scenarios include causing chaos, studying consumers' usage patterns to determine when they're on vacation and then burgling their house, or taking out sensitive facilities.

Another difficulty is that like SCADA systems, today's smart grid systems may have a lifespan of 10 or 20 years. During that time, their built-in security, if any, will become widely known and disseminated. In other words, today's new smart grid meter could be 2030's cyber-catastrophe, or at least give rise to some new variation on Stuxnet.

Accordingly, numerous moves are afoot to help nail the security of smart grids in their infancy. The National Institute of Standards and Technology, notably, has been developing a framework for creating interoperable as well as secure smart grids and related systems.

Last month, the Department of Energy also announced awards of more than $30 million to utility cybersecurity projects. "These awards help us make a significant leap forward to strengthen the security and reliability of the nation's electric grid, in a climate of increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks," said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a statement.

"The development of technologies that can provide defense-in-depth cyber-security solutions, and increased insight from private-public collaborations, will allow us to better protect the nation's energy delivery systems that keep our lights on and the power flowing," he said.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Sodinokibi Ransomware: Where Attackers' Money Goes
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  10/15/2019
Data Privacy Protections for the Most Vulnerable -- Children
Dimitri Sirota, Founder & CEO of BigID,  10/17/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
2019 Online Malware and Threats
2019 Online Malware and Threats
As cyberattacks become more frequent and more sophisticated, enterprise security teams are under unprecedented pressure to respond. Is your organization ready?
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-13545
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-18
In Horner Automation Cscape 9.90 and prior, improper validation of data may cause the system to write outside the intended buffer area, which may allow arbitrary code execution.
CVE-2019-13541
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-18
In Horner Automation Cscape 9.90 and prior, an improper input validation vulnerability has been identified that may be exploited by processing files lacking user input validation. This may allow an attacker to access information and remotely execute arbitrary code.
CVE-2019-17367
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-18
OpenWRT firmware version 18.06.4 is vulnerable to CSRF via wireless/radio0.network1, wireless/radio1.network1, firewall, firewall/zones, firewall/forwards, firewall/rules, network/wan, network/wan6, or network/lan under /cgi-bin/luci/admin/network/.
CVE-2019-17393
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-18
The Customer's Tomedo Server in Version 1.7.3 communicates to the Vendor Tomedo Server via HTTP (in cleartext) that can be sniffed by unauthorized actors. Basic authentication is used for the authentication, making it possible to base64 decode the sniffed credentials and discover the username and pa...
CVE-2019-17526
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-18
** DISPUTED ** An issue was discovered in SageMath Sage Cell Server through 2019-10-05. Python Code Injection can occur in the context of an internet facing web application. Malicious actors can execute arbitrary commands on the underlying operating system, as demonstrated by an __import__('os').pop...