Solar panels, a vulnerability exposes them to cyber attacks

A Dutch researcher has discovered flaws in some of the solar inverter models: if hacked, they could literally shut down half of Europe

That hackers are able to breach any device capable of connecting to the internet is a fact, but what has been discovered by a Dutch computer security expert is shocking: hackers could cause a blackout in Europe by hitting solar panels.

Many media outlets, including the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant, spread the news. Willem Westerhof, this is the name of the researcher, has identified vulnerabilities inside some inverters, devices that are used to transform solar energy into alternating current and then distribute it in the public network. The problem is that the inverters are network-connected devices used in many European countries. If the flaws found in solar panels were exploited by hackers, they could literally turn off the light of the Old Continent. And have in this way unimaginable effects.

Apocalyptic blackout

The vulnerabilities were discovered by the researcher in 2016, during an internship at ITsec. The devices under accusation are reportedly manufactured by a German company. The security issue, therefore, could allow cybercriminals to breach the inverters. This means that hackers would be able to take control of the most important element of solar panels. Because they are networked, hackers could disable multiple inverters at the same time and send the power grid into a tailspin, causing a general blackout.

IoT Objects Danger

Once again, Internet of Things objects come under fire.

The main problem is that having the ability to network with other devices can be used by hackers to launch large-scale cyber attacks, sending servers and facilities halfway around the world down in a matter of seconds.

Unfortunately, the threats are bound to grow along with the increase of the always-connected objects of the Internet of Things, devices that are invading homes and factories and that risk causing damage not only to IT but also to people's lives.