Not long ago, we covered the news about hackers in the Ukraine attacking a power grid and leaving people in a specific region without power for hours. Well, it would seem that the Department of Energy is attacking itself in an effort to help prevent such a thing from happening in the United States.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which is one of the Department of Energy’s 17 national labs, is conducting the hacks on itself using a test bed. The idea is that by creating a test bed that mimics a national utility, the lab can try to recreate ways that hackers might gain entry to a system and take it down. Senior Science Writer Kevin Eber notes, “Today’s electric grid increasingly uses “smart” devices that can be controlled remotely — letting operators manage the grid better and more efficiently. But as the electric grid becomes smarter, it also becomes more vulnerable to hackers.” The combination of cyber security and energy management is something we’ve touched on in the past:
The new software that’s needed to support energy management in the cloud and the software needed for advanced cyber security can and should be implemented together. Through the cloud, the advanced capabilities of connected devices and smart objects, like meters, are essential to the savings aspect of energy management. They are also important in making sure the facilities that house these infrastructure are also safe and secure.
So why is the NREL working on hacking itself? According to the post, the White House and DOE have called for the nation’s power grid to become a smart gird. The tests and findings from the test bed are imperative to that transition and ensuring the nation’s safety. According to Eber, a switch would make the power grid “more responsive to changing power needs, more able to integrate renewable energy, more efficient, and more reliable. ”
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