The Electrical Grid Is Vulnerable To Solar Panel Hackers

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter
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A Dutch researcher found that hackers can wreak havoc on electric grids by tapping into solar panel inverters, according to BBC.

Inverters are the part of a solar panel responsible for converting the DC power created by the panel into AC power used in home appliances. The inverters are sometimes connected to the internet to track the amount of renewable energy the panel is producing, according to Medium.

The internet-connected inverters are vulnerable to hackers who can alter the amount of electricity flowing from panel, a serious concern for electrical grids that operate by balancing output with demand, Dutch researcher Willem Westerhof told BBC.

“If an attacker does that on a large scale, that has serious consequences for the power grid stability,” he said.

Westerhof tested products from the solar manufacturing company SMA. The company pointed out that the vulnerabilities Westerhof found only applied to four models of inverters. Inverters not connected to the internet were also safe.

“The security of our devices has highest priority for SMA in all respects,” SMA said in a statement to BBC. “We already assessed the mentioned issues on a technical basis and [are working] intensively on the correction.”

While the chances of a hacker disrupting the flow of enough solar panels to affect the electrical grid at large is small, experts are warning solar manufacturers to take their tech offline.

“Solar producers should seek to isolate the products from the internet ASAP,” Darktrace director of technology Dave Palmer said. “And [they should] also review their physical access security to reduce the risk of a local attack from someone physically breaking into their facilities.”

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