According to experts, some wind turbines and wind farms are not adequately protected if they are targeted by hackers. Manipulating the computer systems could not only cause damage worth millions for the operators of wind farms, said security expert Christian Garske from IT consultant Industry Solutions in Norderstedt. The security of the power supply could also come at risk.
“In a pioneering market like wind energy, safety issues do not initially have a high priority,” said Garske. “But it is important to keep the security measures permanently at a high level in order to keep pace with the rapid pace of technical development and not to lose touch.”
Wind parks are also prone to cyber attacks because they consist of many similar systems. “It’s like an agricultural monoculture,” said Garske. “In the event of an attack, it is not one system that fails, but many.” The close networking of the systems and parks increases the penetration power of the attacks. There are a total of almost 30,000 wind turbines, of which around 1200 are on the North and Baltic Seas.
Important infrastructure such as the energy sector, water supply or transport hubs such as train stations and airports are usually particularly well protected against attacks on their IT technology. However, this does not necessarily apply to wind turbines. Smaller and older wind farms are not subject to the same strict safety requirements as larger and newer wind farms, said Garske.
The industry itself sees no safety problem in its systems. “Nobody needs to worry,” said the managing director of the German Wind Energy Association (BWE), Wolfram Axthelm. Energy generation systems were part of the critical infrastructure. There is no need to catch up, but there is a constant need to cope with the technical challenges better and better.