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Electric vehicles and smart appliances, whose popularity among Americans is growing, pose a potential cybersecurity risk, a recent report from the Government Office of Accountability has warned.
“A growing number of consumers are using networked consumer devices that are connected to the grid’s distribution systems, such as electric vehicles and charging stations, and smart inverters,” the authors of the report said.
“These devices can be high wattage, which means they can demand a high amount of electricity from the grid. However, distribution utilities have limited visibility and influence on the use and cybersecurity of these devices because consumers typically control them, according to officials from a national laboratory.”
The GAO noted it had earlier established that so-called networked consumer devices could be vulnerable to cyberattacks with hackers capable of compromising a high number of these devices by infecting them with malware and turning them into a botnet. The botnet could then be used to launch a large-scale attack on the grid.
For now, the risk is relatively low, the GAO said but warned that as the number of EVs and smart devices increases, so will the vulnerability of the grid from the direction of networked devices.
It is not just EVs and smart devices that increase the vulnerability of the U.S. grid, either. Rooftop solar installations could be potentially risky, too, according to the report.
“Distributed energy resources are increasingly connected to the grid’s distribution systems and may be leveraged in a cyberattack,” the authors wrote. “These devices can include rooftop solar units and battery storage units. When connected to the grid’s distribution systems, such devices may introduce vulnerabilities, according to federal officials we interviewed.”
Cyber vulnerability could be one aspect of the energy transition agenda that has so far remained overlooked. This agenda features both distributed energy systems and EVs heavily.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.