Too SmartGrid for Our Own Good
This so-called “smartgrid” technology is a disaster waiting to happen:
The hurried deployment of smart-grid technology could leave critical infrastructure and private homes vulnerable to hackers. Security experts at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas last week warned that smart-grid hardware and software lacks the necessary safeguards to protect against meddling.
Utilities are being encouraged to install this smart-grid technology–network-connected devices to help intelligently monitor and manage power usage–through funding from the U.S. government’s 2009 stimulus package. The smart systems could save energy and automatically adjust usage within homes and businesses. Customers might, for example, agree to let a utility remotely turn off their air conditioners at times of peak use in exchange for a discount.
But to receive the stimulus money, utilities will have to install new devices across their entire customer base quickly. Security experts say that this could lead to problems down the road–as-yet-unknown vulnerabilities in hardware and software could open up new ways for attackers to manipulate equipment and take control of the energy supply.
Security against hackers is only the first problem of networking home power systems in such detail as to allow the remote control of individual appliances — via wireless networks, no less. Once the system is in place, it won’t be long until governments begin claiming authority over what runs when in your home and perhaps developing profiles of particular behavior.
That latter possibility is too vague, as yet, for anything more concrete than conjecture, but one can imagine the suspicion aroused by a late-night load of laundry or bureaucratic clucking about an overused coffee machine.