Solar Panels at Risk of Cyber Attacks, warn Experts

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According to experts from Digital Watchdog RDI, solar panels are now vulnerable to cyber attacks, with hackers targeting the vulnerabilities in the inverters that store energy for powering smartphones, laptops, and small electrical gadgets.

This conclusion was reached after a comprehensive assessment of inverters from eight different manufacturers, revealing that none of them met even the basic security standards. Norwegian foundation DNV also released a report stating that photovoltaic inverters can be exploited as bots to disrupt power lines, shut down wind farms, disable refineries, impact fuel supply, compromise public CCTV surveillance networks, and more.

Between 2015 and 2021, approximately 16.3 million connected photovoltaic solar panels were installed in Australia, none of which met the cybersecurity standards set by RDI. This infrastructure could potentially be utilized as sources for launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and disrupting critical infrastructures worldwide.

One notable incident involved an attack on a Ukrainian power grid, where hackers gained access to a renewable energy generation grid through connected photovoltaic cells. Russian hackers were implicated in the attack, but Kyiv managed to thwart their efforts before further damage was done to other connected infrastructures.

It is crucial for manufacturers to actively play a role in offering products that comply with established photovoltaic cybersecurity standards. Likewise, users of such products must ensure that these security features are implemented from the outset of their usage.

As solar inverters become increasingly sophisticated with connected technology, cyber criminals can exploit vulnerabilities to introduce instabilities into their operations, resulting in physical and financial damage to the inverters themselves and any systems connected to them.

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Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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