As the deft stroke of a finger from a black-hatted hacker's hand depressed a key, the lights dimmed and electric apparati cease operating in 68 percent of homes connected to America's smart grid. Washing machines stopped washing and cars stopped charging as the attack continued to issue forth for over 24 hours from deep within the bowels of a malcontent's lair. Lucky for us the assault was a smart meter worm simulation and the destructive hand belonged to Mike Davis of IOActive. This time.
The ersatz attack was presented to the audience at the Black Hat security conference last Thursday and underlines the need for the important pieces underpinning our future "smart" grid to be securely built. The exploit used in this case took advantage of security weaknesses in a smart meter from an unhappy, un-named company. When first confronted with news of their products failings they were somewhat chagrined to learn their device had been purchased on eBay to be examined and exploited by the security expert. If the anonymous concern wants future Department of Energy (DOE) money, they had better get their act together. The government agency has announced that it may withhold funding from smart meter stimulus projects if security concerns aren't addressed. Good thing, too, because having an internet-vunerable grid is just asking for trouble from antagonistic countries as well as bored teenagers.