Linux saves Aussie electrical grid

Linux saves Aussie electrical grid
Linux saves Aussie electrical grid 

By Nick Farrell
The Inquirer
1 October 2009

QUICK THINKING open sourcerers might have saved an Australian power 
supply system after its electrical grid control room network got 
infected with a virus.

A Windows virus hit the networks of Integral Energy and, according to a 
submission to Slashdot, the virus managed to spread to the operator 
display consoles in the control room.

Quick thinking techies in the control systems department of the utility 
swapped the infected Windows boxes for machines running Linux that they 
were using for development.

The move prevented the virus from taking over all the operator displays 
in the control room.

There have been a number of government inquiries into the security of 
electricity companies worldwide because of the fear that hackers, 
terrorists or cyber warriors for a rival country might take control of 
electric power grids. Now it would seem that such fears might have been 

However in Oz there could be some concern that notoriously insecure 
Windows machines were even being used for critical infrastructure 
systems. The Slashdot submission says that the power grid's system 
control and data acquisition (SCADA) servers run Solaris Unix and the 
operator consoles only really need to run X-windows displays. The 
question is why the utility would choose to run X on Windows boxes 
merely to talk to the UNIX-based SCADA servers that control the 
electrical grid.


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