Beijing: Indian power equipment manufacturers have raised alarm over vulnerability of the country’s transmission networks to hacking as Chinese companies make steady inroads into SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems being added to smarten up city grids.
SCADA is a computer-based industrial automation control system that practically makes factories and utilities run on their own. In an electrical system, SCADA maintains balance between demand and supply in the grid.
“In the connected systems, intelligent equipment talk to each other and exchange data and information, making the system more efficient but at the same time increasing the vulnerability if exposed to suspect individuals, companies and nations which may use such access to their advantage,” Indian Electrical Equipment Manufacturers Association director-general Sunil Misra said in a letter to power minister Piyush Goyal.
This is not the first time that domestic power gear makers are opposing Chinese equipment. But unlike in the past, when boilers and generators for power stations were in the line of fire, the concerns this time are strategic and not about protecting turf.
SCADA contracts include maintenance of equipment, while transmission lines are given on build, own, operate, transfer basis spanning 35 years. This allows contractors to place their personnel on site in case of SCADA projects and control operations in transmission lines, allowing ample scope of planting computer bugs at a later stage. Chinese companies recently bagged SCADA contracts for 18 cities spanning Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. More such contracts are on anvil.