Wednesday 28 July 2021

Energy transition not cyber secure, telecom agency warns

The energy transition is making the Dutch electricity network vulnerable to cyber attacks, telecoms watchdog Agentschap Telecom has warned.

Solar panels and charging stations for electric cars can be hacked and that could affect and possibly put out of action the whole network, AT director Angeline van Dijk told the Financieele Dagblad.

Awareness of the potential problem is largely absent among producers, users and providers of new services and smart equipment, Van Dijk said. ‘The way we are designing the digital infrastructure is at least as important as the rest of the energy transition,’ she told the paper.

A million households are currently using solar panels for electricity and that number is expected to double in the next few years.

While an individual hack may not affect the network, things are very different if the software that manages the panels is attacked, Van Dijk said.

‘Criminals or hackers could gain entry from a distance and turn off a great number of panels and so endanger energy provision,’ she said.

Cyber security experts in the FD pointed to a recent attack on an electricity network in the United States thought to be the work of hackers.

Wind and solar farms

The watchog is taking on more roles, and soon will monitor big solar and wind farms as well as being involved in the safety of cloud companies which are hosting software and apps.

It will also check if devices are cyber secure. If devices are communicating with the internet without a secure connection or via a standard password the AT will have the authority to ban them, the FD said.

The industry has welcomed the decision to expand the regulator’s powers.

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