They may hold the key to saving the planet, but wind farms are easy prey for malicious hackers. Researchers from the University of Tulsa have exposed the vulnerability of wind turbines to various kinds of cyberattack, demonstrating how easy it is to hack into one unit in order to bring the whole network to a grinding halt.
Having effortlessly picked the lock to access the turbine and breached its unsecured server closet, they unplugged a network cable and inserted it into their minicomputer. This allowed them to close down every turbine on the wind farm. The researchers themselves were shocked at how straightforward it was to scupper the entire fleet.
Happily, in this instance they had the blessing of wind energy companies in investigating the digital vulnerabilities of this increasingly important method of generating green energy. More serious than bringing the units to a temporary standstill is the possibility of doing costly damage to them.
While wind power still only supplies a relatively small part of the world’s energy needs, this research demonstrates that wind farms need to tighten up security on all levels if the lights are to stay switched on in years to come.
Read more at https://www.wired.com/story/wind-turbine-hack