P ower grids are vulnerable to cyber attack. As rooftop solar increases, so does the threat. Many inverters connect to the Internet that upload and store data. It’s a ‘backdoor’ that criminals could use to harm our energy systems. The state government of South Australia (SA) is working with USA's MITRE to take on these threats.
SA alone has by end of June 2019, nearly 1GW of rooftop solar, industry reports spell danger prompting firm action. A partnership between the Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre (ACCC) and MITRE will focus this effort. The US Government funds MITRE, which is a not for profit US firm. Over the last 50 years, it has devised methods of countering the threats that face both public and private institutions. It is a leader in providing cyber security to thwart attacks on critical infrastructure.
The ACCC has $8.9M in funding from the SA government. Its HQ is in the Lot 14 Innovation Business Precinct in Adelaide. The threat has now got bigger to include increasing attacks from insiders. MITRE has the expertise to detect and mitigate these events making them much harder and much longer to effect. The new centre should be up and running by July 2020. It will assist both new and old companies in their efforts to launch new products and services globally.
SA has one of the highest uptakes of rooftop solar globally, so it’s ideal for testing new strategies. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) in its 2018 annual report, says that our current cyber security is lacking. Our ability to respond, according to consulting firm, Accenture is low. With this new collaboration the hope is to develop new ways to uncover and defeat criminal activities before they strike. Australian governments and companies will be able to build protection into their energy assets.