National Smart Grid vulnerable to cyber attack, says expert

November 21, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 05:41 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram:

The installation of smart meters under the National Smart Grid Mission in the power sector could pose a serious threat to the country’s critical infrastructure, one of India’s leading experts in cyber security has said.

The 20 crore smart meters to be installed under the mission are not data secure and are open to cyber attacks that could weaken the stability of the country’s power sector, according to Sachin Burman, Director, National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC).

Mr. Burman, who was here to participate in the south zone workshop on Protection of National Critical Information Infrastructure, said though the smart meters were designed to fend off attempts at tampering by consumers, they were vulnerable to cyber attacks. Making the smart meters data secure would push up the cost by several times. However, a successful attack on power infrastructure could bring the country down to its knees, he warned.

Mr. Burman said the rollout of e- governance services by states had opened up new avenues for malicious hackers and attackers, often backed by state support from hostile nations, to play havoc with critical information infrastructure (CII). The increasing number of attacks on CII using cutting edge technology should force states to tighten cyber security.

Pointing out that cyber threats had evolved from the theft of credit card data and defacement of websites to attacks designed to cripple national critical infrastructure, he stressed the need to ensure the security of services and applications used in e-governance.

While the proliferation of Web-enabled devices had resulted in an increase in unmonitored, unsecured internet connectivity, exposing systems to new risks, hackers were today equipped with technology to remain virtually untraceable. Attackers often resorted to Advanced persistent threats (APT), supply chain contamination and distributed denial of service (DDoS) to hijack or destroy sensitive information. Some modes of attack like Gauss were not even fully understood, Mr. Burman said.

Highlighting the need to minimise vulnerability to cyber attacks, he urged states to identify and notify their critical information infrastructure, review their cyber security architecture and carry out security audits.

Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Nalini Netto, Additional Director General of Police, Tamil Nadu, P. Kandasamy, Kerala State IT Mission Director K. Mohammed Y. Safirulla and T. Mohana Dhas, State Informatics Officer, were among those who attended the workshop.

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