TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Hackers Target U.S. Power Grid

Re: Hackers Target U.S. Power Grid

Daniel J McDonald (
Mon, 21 Mar 2005 19:35:58 -0600

In article <>,
<> wrote:

> Power grids existed long before networked-computers came out. Why
> would the grid be so vulnerable now?

Because it is more efficient to control a grid froma central location,
rather than sending men out to substations to throw breakers.

> Shouldn't those critical networks be isolated from outside access
> altogether?

Information sharing can be gathered for non-control systems from the
intelligent devices at grid control points. Meters are not only
useful for determining load and deciding when to switch to a different
circuit, but for billing as well. information about voltage and
frequency support is used to demonstrate "more stability" and thus
gain a higher retail price, in addition to giving the control board
operators information on what they need to do to support the grid.

Also, the grid has become more complicated, with "distributed
generation". With people looking for alternative sources of power,
there are many additional complexities. For example, in my city,
Austin Texas, there are solar, fuel-cell, and small-package combined
chiller/generators distributed around the city that feed into the
grid, along with a couple of methane burners at the dumps.
Coordinating all of those small generators takes extensive
instrumentation that wasn't necessary 20 years ago, and wouldn't be
possible without networks.

> Secondly, they should be more worried about grid overloads from all the
> power source shifting done today. The grids were not designed to
> handle that kind of loads and problems like the recent NYC-NE blackout
> will occur again.

Yup. The real solution, assuming we can't upgrade the grid, is to
build more powerplants closer to the load (that is, closer to
population centers). Of course, that is very popular and people are
overjoyed to welcome new jobs into their neighborhoods. ;-)

Daniel J McDonald CCIE # 2495, CNX
Visit my website:

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