Power Grid Attacks

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  PhilTheBiker 3 years, 1 month ago.

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  • #2387

    PhilTheBiker
    Moderator

    So the news for the last several years has been talking about how the enemy’s next attack is going to bring down our power grid.

    I saw a recent feed on my LinkedIn account, how this company is selling power based on the time of day.
    https://www.linkedin.com/company/2767?trk=NUS_JOBCHANGE-cmpy

    It’s been going on for some time in California. Some people even have huge battery systems that charge at night when the power is cheap and then they run off the batteries during the day so they can save money. I started really thinking about how that attack is going to happen.

    There are essentially regions in the power grid system. Regions are usually several states and don’t really follow any logical order other than how the infrastructure was built over time. Power companies can buy and sell power over regional connections based on the need of another region. A few regions that I can think of off the top of my head are PJM (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland [but also includes parts of New York]) and Texas.

    So here is the thing that is scary.
    1) all smart meters talk back to head quarters communicating over power lines
    2) houses are starting to have smart devices installed that can communicate with the power company
    3) power companies are installing systems that allow them to remotely shutdown AC units during high power usage times

    Let’s think about this.

    Appliances now have the ability to talk to the power company over the power lines. What would prevent someone from creating a device, walk up to a power outlet, plug it in, and send data back to the power company?

    People now have the ability to look at their power bill in real time. So if your AC unit is costing you $0.30 an hour to run, you can log into a webpage and see what your AC unit costs you (if it is smart aware) and then you can go one step further and shutdown your AC unit remotely. That means there is a system in place to directly talk to your smart appliances using the internet.

    How could someone shutdown the national power grid?

    What if someone hacked into the system over the internet and turned every AC in California to 50 degrees on a 90 degree day? Chances are the power grid would not be able to handle it. On the reverse, what if someone hacked into the power grid and started shutting down every’s AC unit. The power company then sees the demand for power go down so they start spinning down power generation units and then the hacker turns all the AC units back on at once. The brownout/blackout situation.

    How would a hacker do this? Either by hacking a smart appliance directly or by hacking the power company over the internet. If a customer has the capability than so can someone that compromises a customer account.

    Getting back to the regions, those power regions are for the most part independent of one another, but connected so if someone knows they are shutting down a power generation unit for maintenance they can do so and buy power from another source or in today’s world if no wind is in the forecast they can pull power from another source other than wind power. A power outage would most likely be regional and not national, however, regional could cover several states such as PJM does.

    #19803

    alwayscross
    Member

    I don’t know if power outs will cause insane problems, maybe a few riots and thefts but nothing to bad. Maybe if the power outs last days then there will be some collapse. Plus im not to worried as main things can still resume such as hospitals and police stations, but if all power gets cut off then theres a problem.

    #19802

    PhilTheBiker
    Moderator

    @alwayscross 21139 wrote:

    I don’t know if power outs will cause insane problems, maybe a few riots and thefts but nothing to bad. Maybe if the power outs last days then there will be some collapse. Plus im not to worried as main things can still resume such as hospitals and police stations, but if all power gets cut off then theres a problem.

    While power grid’s going down would most likely be temporary, it could still cause havoc on peoples lives just like when a winter storm comes in or a hurricane blows in and you have 100,000+ without power. Imagine something similar to the North East US power grid shutdown where millions lost power due to a faulty relay with a power surge of some sort in Toronto. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northeast_blackout_of_2003

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