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Airdate: Dec 08, 2016
Scientist: Charles Clancy

Cybersecurity - Hacking the Grid

Cybersecurity - Hacking the Grid
A frightening new aspect of cybercrime is just beginning to emerge.

Cybersecurity: Hacking the Grid

Up to now, cybercrime has mostly involved stealing information and getting access to people's bank accounts,

Clancy: but there's an entire new aspect of cyber crime that is just starting to emerge that's a bit more frightening.

I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Charles Clancy is a director of the Hume Center for National Security and Technology at Virginia Tech.

Clancy: My research group has been focusing a lot on the intersection of cyber security and the physical world. Recently in the news, there's been reports of pacemakers being hacked into and demonstrating the ability to change the therapies on a pacemaker that could result in someone dying. There's significant concern as we look at the automation of our environment - things like self-driving cars, the use of increased autonomy electronics and commercial aircraft.
Historically, the people who build equipment for the power grid, for example, have presumed that that equipment would be independent, it would not touch the internet. But there's a lot of value that can come from connecting portions of the power grid to the internet. You can get all kinds of data from how the grid is operating. You can improve the efficiency of, for example, the power grid.

As you have systems that were never designed to be connected to the internet suddenly becoming connected to the internet with the goal of increasing productivity and efficiency, we need to find ways to retroactively introduce security into what might be a 20 or 30-year old piece of electronics that was never designed to have security in it. And then looking at new technology that's being designed, the next generation of the power grid, the next generation of automobiles, and figuring out how we might build security in from the very beginning as the individual components of those systems are being designed and developed.

We'll hear more on Cybersecurity in future programs. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.