Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Battlestar Gallactica and the smart grid

There is a compelling story here, but I can't think of a clever way to state it.

Simply put:

There is a consistent (and fairly blind) effort to increase the level of automation in our nation's electrical system at all levels.

This creates an obvious and I think unavoidable way for hackers to play with stuff that might actually hurt people.

Some argue the benefits outweigh the dangers and that robust cybersecurity policies can protect us. I think that is 100% grade A BS. I don't think there is such a thing as a secure network and neither does the CIA. Their sensitive information is kept on computers that aren't connected to any networks. Networked information is basically public information.

As part of my work, I've seen some cybersecurity policies for the energy industry and I'm pretty sure the only reason we haven't seen a major hacker-induced outage is because nobody has really tried to cause one yet. Or maybe because they never learned power flow calculations.

Point being, I think we're better off going the Battlestar Gallactica route - embrace individual computing devices, just never let so many of them talk to each other and make automated decisions that they could endanger the reliability of the power supply.

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