Cyber-Security Of Continent’s Power Grid ‘Chaotic’
BY IAN MACLEOD
OTTAWA — The cyber-security of the North American power grid is “in a state of near chaos,” according to a report by a respected U.S. energy consultancy monitoring the industry’s transition to wireless digital technologies.
The white paper by Pike Research reveals that a $60 smart phone application can bypass security measures and allow direct communications between the phone and some control systems (ICS) that regulate breakers, relays, feeders and the flow of electricity.
The news comes on the heels of a warning from the cyber-security arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that the hacker collective known as Anonymous appears intent on exploiting the ICS vulnerabilities within the energy industry.
In an unclassified October bulletin obtained by the website Public Intelligence, the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center believes the group has, “a limited ability to conduct attacks against ICS. However . . . Anonymous could be able to develop capabilities to trespass on control system networks very quickly.”
In July, Anonymous threatened to target companies involved with Alberta’s oilsands.
Coincidentally, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which enforces reliability standards for North America’s gigantic and interconnected bulk power system of transmission lines and control systems, began a long-planned security exercise Tuesday.
It says the three-day “cyber readiness” drill will, “test the electricity industry’s crisis response plans, and validate current readiness in response to a cyber incident.”