Squirrels, Grid Security and a Stuffed Rudd

Probably the most effective way for any terrorist group or belligerent power to cripple a Western nation and bring it to its knees is to destroy its electricity grid.  Without power, most of the infrastructure will crumble into chaos within a few weeks.  Manufacturing would come to a standstill, along with healthcare, transport, banking, mobile communications and retail.  That was seen in Iraq, where 70% of the generating capacity was destroyed during the Gulf war, in what has been described as a crime against humanity.  At that time, grid destruction relied on physical means – dropping bombs on power stations and sub-stations.  As we integrate more electronics and software into the grid, you no longer need expensive munitions to blow things up – terrorists can do it from a computer.

It’s two years since I last wrote about the cybersecurity issues within the GB smart meter rollout.  At that time the response from the industry was dismissive.  In the past six months, three things have happened which bring the risk back into focus.  We’ve seen the first major grid cyber attack in the Ukraine; secondly, smart home owners with Nest thermostats have discovered that firmware updates can stop them operating and the third is that reports have come in of smart meters in the UK which have stopped working.  None of that means our grid is going to be hacked tomorrow, but they all point out that what has been dismissed as impossible may not be quite so difficult as the industry and DECC would like to believe.  Despite that, heads are still firmly in the sand as the UK Government continues to press ahead with a smart metering programme that is not so much climate-friendly as terrorist-friendly.

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