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#169212 09/28/07 08:57 PM
Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 251
W
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http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/09/26/power.at.risk/index.html#cnnSTCVideo
You all watch where your standby generators surf the net, they could be attacked.

Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 228
J
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Does anybody here work on generating equipment? I am curious to see how true this is. It sounds like they send the engine bad information and make it spin too fast, burning it out.

But how many power plant engines can be 'told' to spin too fast? I know newer diesel engines in trucks can be reprogrammed to put out more or less horsepower, change transmission timing, etc, but could the engine 'self destruct'? How much computing power is in use in coal fired plants? They seem pretty straightforward. I understand a nuclear plant is pretty susceptible to a computer attack, but would assume (which could be my problem) that their network is fairly well protected.

Or is this just another ploy for the news organizations to try and scare the hell out of the general public?

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,672
Likes: 7
G
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It is just a scare story I imagine, like all the bunk surrounding Y2K. I suppose it is possible that some operator is running a windoze based control system, open to the net but I hope they are a little smarter than that.


Greg Fretwell
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 783
L
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Assuming you have
1) generators paralelled with the utility grid
2) Web interfaces for remote start up and syncronizing of generators
3) alter the control limits or disable interlocks through software manipulations

Now parallel generators out of phase by 180 degrees. What do you think might happen?

How about changing the prime mover speed so that the generator starts acting as a motor instead of a generator.

How about taking control of the VAR capacitor banks and start changing the Power Factor.

What if alot of things we are not SUPPOSED to do are "protected" by software, and people start altering the software maliciously. All sorts of strange things can start happening.

Plus all sorts of metering, billing, transmission, and actual electrical information is running around between large companies that have local generation and the local utilities. Tapping into those networks must be possible.

With enough money and effort, most of that information can be accessed and possibly controlled.

What scares me is how reliant the US has become on computers to control everything from almost anywhere.

Larry C

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,672
Likes: 7
G
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I guess I just don't understand why this would all be done "on the internet". I would think a leased line would do the same thing with virtually 100% security. For that matter why don't they just send the signals over the HV lines using BPL technology and a frequency band other than used by the commercial product?
When you add hard encryption and some proprietary software, you have a pretty tough link to break into.



Greg Fretwell
Joined: Sep 2001
Posts: 806
N
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Quote
I guess I just don't understand why this would all be done "on the internet".


It all comes down to the almighty buck. Standard internet access is widely available and much cheaper than leased lines or VPNs. Using internet connectivity allows whole "modules" of hardware and software to be "cut and pasted" into new products, as opposed to having to write dedicated code for a proprietary system.

Forbes magazine had a recent article on the vulnerabilities of SCADA systems. An interesting read, if a bit light on technical details (intended for the Wall St. crowd, not people who actually have a clue):

http://www.forbes.com/2007/08/22/scada-hackers-infrastructure-tech-security-cx_ag_0822hack.html

Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 273
C
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they showed them doing it on the CNN news the other day. belive it was in new mexico labs.nothing but a computer & a mouse. the big shots didn't belive it could be done.but they made belivers out of them real quick. of course they didn't tell how it was done. so now there racing to make sure there are no loop holes they can use.the bad part is you couldn't trace who done it.


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