The revelation that a computer worm disabled a safety system in a US nuclear power station in January has led to fresh calls for security on electricity grids to be overhauled. Experts say much of the grid’s critical infrastructure is too accessible to the virus-ridden public internet. News of the safety flaw came as teams investigating the North American electricity blackout on 14 August said they still could not rule out computer problems as a contributory cause of the outage. Control system experts warn that it is only a matter of time before worms like MSBlaster or Sobig.F – which uses spamming technology to amplify its presence on the net – cripple a power station or grid. When the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant in Ohio was hit by the Slammer worm earlier in 2003, the reactor happened to be offline. But the worm disabled a safety monitoring system for nearly five hours. “We are still working through the information to find out what happened,” says a spokesman for Akron-based FirstEnergy, which owns the plant. Full Story
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