Powerbox's Marketing & Communication Chief to Discuss ‘Smart Grid Security’ at APEC 2017

By Rob GrayMarch 15, 2017

Applied Power Electronics Conference 2017 | March 26-30 | Tampa, FL

The risk of cyber threats and cyber-crimes is rising exponentially with the advent of connected devices and its growing connectedness with the Smart Grid.

Florida International University estimated that more than 100 cyberattacks affected the US infrastructure during the first six months of 2015, out of which the energy sector accounted for the largest number of attacks. It is now becoming increasingly essential to motivate electricity producers, governmental agencies, distribution networks, local distribution, and the end-users alike to ruminate on how to secure the Smart Grid.

Powerbox Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Patrick Le Fèvre, voiced his concern regarding pressing issue in a leading technical publication, IEEE Power Electronics in December 2016. He has been involved with small and large projects for decades with the sole motive of adding intelligence and communication capabilities to power supplies.

In his paper, “Digital Power,” Fèvre talked about the concerns of software security in the power sector and analyzed in detail how prepared power supply companies are to address such issues.

This year, Powerbox, an industry leader in optimizing power solutions for four decades, announced that Patrick Le Fèvre will present a paper about ‘smart grid security’ at the Applied Power Electronics Conference (APEC) 2017.

Why Securing Smart Grids Is the Need of the Hour?

In the Aurora Generator Test, in 2007, the US government illustrated how hackers with only 21 lines of code could take absolute control of a power plant and physically damage a generator.

For instance, in April 2016, cyber attackers breached the network of an electricity and water authority in Michigan through a ransomware, forcing the authority to lock down their information technology system for over a week. On December 23, 2015, at 4:00 p.m. local time, cyberattack crippled the IT and communications systems of electric companies in the Ukrainian region of Ivano-Frankivsk. Hackers controlled the system and took out the power for several hours.

More than 220,000 customers were affected by the power outage, in addition to severe damages incurred by the power supply companies.

In this case, the cyber attackers used a combination of attacking tools such as KillDisk malware programs, security gaps in Microsoft Office documents, and BlackEnergy 3 to penetrate the IT network of the electric companies.

Following the attack, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in February 2016, issued an alert and escalated the information to an important level of attention, urging smart grid operators to develop protection mechanisms and accelerate their preventative action policies.

Though there is a negligible risk factor of a hacker reaching a single digital-POL at board level, the security threat, however, increases as it moves upward in the value chain, which obviously makes the smart grid most exposed to breaches and attacks.

What to Expect at the Applied Power Electronics Conferences 2017?

Patrick Le Fèvre, in his presentation at the Applied Power Electronics Conferences, on March 30th, in Tampa, Florida, will talk about the growing threats in the power industry and illustrate different case studies and initiatives to counter cyberattacks on the smart grid.

The lecture will empower electric producers and distributors with action plans to protect and make the worldwide smart grid safer and stronger from potential threats.

Cyberattacks on the smart grid is a universal threat and all nations are at risk. Hackers taking control over smart grids can lead to devastating consequences. The world must come together to deal with this menace to secure smart grids and prevent damages.