Digitization of the power grid

CD Menard, Lenses Writer

The digitization of infrastructure, which has enabled significant positive strides, most specifically the power grid, has posed some new and unforeseen problems. Power plants historically controlled by a switchboard of manual buttons and levers are increasingly being transferred online (so engineers can control them from their smartphones remotely) which opens up vulnerabilities in those systems. While this transference to online access can be a good thing, as it makes the plant easier to operate and cheaper to operate, exposed vulnerabilities are frequently an issue.  (Morris, Lindsay, “Wireless at Power plants”, power-eng.com, Power Engineering, 9/1/11, https://www.power-eng.com/2011/09/01/wireless-at-power-plants/#gref,

One example the world witnessed in the Prykarpattyaoblenergo electric utility in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblask attack in which the power plants were hacked, which was subsequently linked to hackers from a rival foregin government. (Zetter, Kim. “Everything We Know About Ukraine’s Power Plant Attack .”Wired.com, Wired, 1/20/2016,https://www.wired.com/2016/01/everything-we-know-about-ukraines-power-plant-hack/ .9/29/2020.).
This is a prime example of how our largely unregulated interconnected world can cause more harm than good. This is especially true in applications of power plants, which are not normally connected to the internet.  Notably, the NSA has pointed out that our own power grid in the U.S. is vulnerable as well.  Project Aurora, which was commissioned by the NSA, proved that a major power transformer could be hacked remotely and rendered inoperable with ease.  (FOIA Request obtained by MuckRock, MuckRock.com, 5/17/2014,
https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/operation-aurora-11765/, 9/29/2020.)).
Overall, increased connectivity to the internet has changed our lives for the better in some of our smart home devices and computers.  However, this increased exposure has generated mastiff attacks, facilitates easy targets to internal components related to infrastructure that supports our daily lives, health, wellbeing, economy, livelihood, standard of living, expediency of accomplishments – to name a few.   Clearly societal well being dictates reservation and caution in moving forward.  It appears prudence would dictate to balance eagerness towards connectivity without oversight and introspection of possible detrimental outcomes along with safeguards.