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Networking Technology

Smart Grid May Also Carry IPv6 Traffic 70

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the wires-are-wires dept.
itwbennett writes "Kevin Fogarty is blogging about new specs outlined by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) that outline the requirements for 'any network designed to carry data instead of just electrons.' What's needed, in short, is 'a Common Information Model for the format of data in the network, interfaces to allow it to go from one device or substation to another, exchanges between control centers and communications protocols that will add security to the net.'"
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Smart Grid May Also Carry IPv6 Traffic

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  • Surely data traffic is going to grow much faster than the grid, and so it makes more sense to separate the two?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CarpetShark (865376)

      Also, this "add security to the net" thing has me worried. Don't law enforcement have the capability to shut down power to buildings etc.? Will this give them the capability to shut down internet access too -- perhaps even for an entire block where riots are taking place?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SydShamino (547793)

        And you don't think can do this already?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by DeadboltX (751907)
          Without getting too detailed, shutting down the internet for an entire block is more difficult than you might think. You either need to physically stop the signal by breaking the circuit or having some sort of jammer on the wire, which would require interfering with multiple kinds of wire (cable, phone, etc). Or you need to cooperate with the internet providers to suspend individual user accounts or stop routing to their local node.

          This still wouldn't stop cell data access unless they shut down entire to
          • >>>you need to cooperate with the internet providers to suspend individual user accounts or stop routing to their local node.

            Bingo. That would also include the wired lines to those cell towers.

          • Without getting too detailed, shutting down the internet for an entire block is more difficult than you might think.

            You are obviously thinking of technical ways to shut down the Internet. Violent methiods quite often trump high tech methods. Wireless internet? Big fscking stolen truck. DSL/Cable? Big fscking stolen truck.

          • You're thinking too hard about technical solutions. Just kill power to the CO for hard wire access and set up signal jammers for wireless.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Will this give them the capability to shut down internet access too -- perhaps even for an entire block where riots are taking place?

        They've have to knock out power along with the internet. If you don't have power you probably don't have internet access anyway ... unless you have a broadband/WAN card in your laptop, which probably has a battery in it.

      • by Hylandr (813770)
        What kind of security would have to be added? Try doing a Vamp Tap on a high tension line with no body around to care. I double dog dare you. *Evil Grin*

        - Dan.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      No, and don't call me Shirley.

    • Plus, there's nothing better than a single point of failure...
  • And isn't high frequency electrical noise carried over high power lines a threat to our health?

    http://areyoutargeted.com/fighting-back/public-relations/making-your-case/eh-and-health/ [areyoutargeted.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And isn't high frequency electrical noise carried over high power lines a threat to our health?

      http://areyoutargeted.com/fighting-back/public-relations/making-your-case/eh-and-health/ [areyoutargeted.com]

      Probably not but it is a threat to radio communications, esp HAM radio; unless the "smart grid" will use shielded power lines only. Sounds like another stimulus project.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by vlm (69642)

        Probably not but it is a threat to radio communications, esp HAM radio

        It's been proven over the past decade of BPL deployment that the threat is at least partially in the opposite direction... BPL works great as long as you are a minimum of a half mile away from all transmitters including AM, FM, TV, ham radio, CB, cellphone, any land mobile including cop cars, airport, aircraft, coast guard station/harbormaster yard, railroad... Yet the deployment equipment is quite expensive so you need a high population density, urban city, etc.

        So, just find a neighborhood in Manhatten or

      • >>>radio communications, esp HAM radio;

        Why just HAM? It would also affect other VHF services too - like TV channels 2-13 and FM Radio and DRM (digital radio mondiale). Probably AM radio and shortwave radio would experience noise too, since they seem to be susceptible to everything.

  • what could possibly go wrong? I can't wait to see the next stuxnet [wikipedia.org]
  • It carries "waves". The individual electrons don't really get very far, but the 60Hz electromagnetic wave that carries the power, that goes far.

    All this is, is, hey, we carry a powerful 60Hz signal, how about we carry lower-power, high frequency signals too? And all the associated complexity of actually sending and receiving high frequency signals, a devil of many details.

    --PM

    • It carries "waves".

      For God's sake man, which is it: carrying, or waving?

      • It carries "waves".

        For God's sake man, which is it: carrying, or waving?

        Clearly it's carrying on by waving goodbye to the electrons.

      • by vlm (69642)

        For God's sake man, which is it: carrying, or waving?

        More fun to ask if its a particle or a wave carrying the energy... Or is that, carrying the mass... And can you tell both the location and momentum of an electric company service truck simultaneously...

        • And can you tell both the location and momentum of an electric company service truck simultaneously...

          Given I have no idea at all where the electric company (also phone and cable) trucks are and I've been waiting all day, I'm going to say it's possible that I inadvertently gleaned very precise information as to its momentum.

    • by vlm (69642) on Monday October 18, 2010 @12:23PM (#33935068)

      All this is, is, hey, we carry a powerful 60Hz signal,

      Don't forget high voltage DC, HVDC.

      The power companies have vast fiber networks. A piece of glass solves a lot of lightning, grounding, and electromagnetic interference problems. However, you have to be careful with the conductive steel leader line.

    • Actually it doesn't carry those waves, it only guides them. The electromagnetic fields are mostly outside the wires.

    • I think it's a "detail of many devils".

      just saying...
  • no it won't (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ephemeriis (315124)

    Broadband over powerlines keeps popping up. It isn't going to happen. Yeah, it sounds like a good idea on paper... You've already got all those copper lines carrying electricity, why not throw a signal in there and do double duty? Except that it just doesn't work. I don't know how many times I've seen it here on Slashdot.

    And IPv6? Not any time soon. Maybe not ever. Yeah, I know, we're running out of addresses. NAT is horrible. I know. And I'd love to roll out IPv6 today just for the hell of it (b

    • by dave420 (699308)
      Luckily the rest of the world is not limited by your arrogance. Who gives a fuck if you don't think IPv6 will ever be wide-spread? Or if you're sceptical of power grids also carrying data?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by vlm (69642)

        But folks have been talking about IPv6 for years now.

        And many of those folks such as myself have been quietly deploying... I strongly urge my competitors to take your stance and bury their heads in the sand. I love it. Please make more /. posts encouraging my competitors to not innovate. The more people left behind, the further ahead I'll be.

        Or if you're sceptical of power grids also carrying data?

        He actually got that right, perhaps accidentally, he just didn't post any sources or reasoning. BPL has been nothing but a miserable failure. The idea is eternally seductive, but the outside plant and the electromag

        • by BobMcD (601576)

          But folks have been talking about IPv6 for years now.

          And many of those folks such as myself have been quietly deploying... I strongly urge my competitors to take your stance and bury their heads in the sand. I love it. Please make more /. posts encouraging my competitors to not innovate. The more people left behind, the further ahead I'll be.

          In which exact ways are you innovating a published standard? Are you genuinely seeking to take credit for the whole of IPv6? Al Gore, is that you??

          • by skids (119237)

            Please do us a favor and look up "innovate" in a dictionary. Innovation is inventing and/or applying novel techniques.

            • by BobMcD (601576)

              Yeah, I'm aware. Again, we're not talking about some hypothetical abstract here. We're discussing IPv6. Assuming you could innovate something incredible that gave you a competitive advantage, what, then, would still be compatible with that innovation? For if it is still covered by the spec, how could it possibly be new?

              • by skids (119237)

                Simply updating a network or product to support IPv6 which previously did not is indeed innovating. There's no need for IPv6 to be new in general, just locally to a given regime.

                • by BobMcD (601576)

                  You're picking at nits, and not genuinely making any points. If you really believe that adding IPv6 support is innovation enough to warrant the OP's comment, then I suppose we'll just have to agree that we use that word with differing connotations.

      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by Ephemeriis (315124)

        Luckily the rest of the world is not limited by your arrogance.

        Arrogance? Or realism?

        Who gives a fuck if you don't think IPv6 will ever be wide-spread?

        I never said anything about wide-spread. I said "Not any time soon. Maybe not ever." We've been talking about IPv6 for how long now? A decade? Longer? And it's always got to happen right now because we're all out of addresses! But it doesn't happen. And we keep limping along as-is. And I see no reason to believe that'll change any time soon.

        Or if you're sceptical of power grids also carrying data?

        The fact of the matter is that embedding a signal in a power line turns it into an antenna. Wreaks havoc with the local EM band. It isn

        • by vlm (69642)

          I said "Not any time soon. Maybe not ever." We've been talking about IPv6 for how long now? A decade? Longer? And it's always got to happen right now because we're all out of addresses! But it doesn't happen. And we keep limping along as-is. And I see no reason to believe that'll change any time soon.

          A quote from the CEO of Countrywide or any other recently failed financial institution (all of them?):

          House prices always go up. Always have, always will. Sure, in the past they went up and down, but they won't go down now. Not any time soon. Maybe not ever. We've been talking about the housing bubble popping for how long now? Years? Longer? But it doesn't happen. And we keep limping along with subprime mortgages, liar loans, ninja loans, option mortgages, adjustable rates. And I see no reason to

    • by Lennie (16154)

      Well, let's see, there are now 12 /8's left, the last 5 will have a different policy applied to them (much smaller chunks and only for transition purposes).

      There have been 14 /8's allocated just this year, how long do you think this will last ?

      Yes, people will be able to sell you some used IPv4-address block, but IPv6 will be pretty much free.

      Good luck to you.

      • by Lennie (16154)

        So, yes it will take a few years before IPv4 is going to be expensive to come by. But it will happen.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      I think the linked article is just confused, and this story isn't about broadband over powerlines at all. Check the NIST link [nist.gov]: it's about setting network protocols for the exchange of information needed to link smart power nodes, so they can do load balancing or whatever. I don't see anything there that says they wouldn't just have fiber optic data links to send information, and power lines to send power.

      I could be wrong here, but I checked the links in the story and couldn't find any confirmation that

      • by kiwimate (458274)

        You're completely right, and thanks for adding this clarification. If you want to get a bit more of an idea of what is involved, start looking here [nist.gov].

    • by Darinbob (1142669)
      It's not happening. The "smart grid" is extremely low point-to-point bandwidth. You'll get better performance with dial-up.

      But the smart grid is already ipv6, it's already here. That's doesn't mean it will be connected to the internet as a whole or that you can directly address a meter or transformer from your browser. It's just a very straight forward networking standard to use; highly scalable to billions of devices, easily interoperable with currently available routers & servers, etc.
  • Just wondering if these new standards comply with Net Neutrality? Or we are to assume they will?
    • by BobMcD (601576)

      Just wondering if these new standards comply with Net Neutrality? Or we are to assume they will?

      Well, if they don't, then they'll be just one more competitive option to use during the selection process, won't they?

  • by spikedvodka (188722) on Monday October 18, 2010 @12:37PM (#33935204)

    I swear I've heard this before...
        oh yeah, phone lines... I think it went something like this:
    Exec 1: We already have lines run, why should we bother with a second set of lines for control signals say from pay phones?
    Exec 2: I can't see of a reason, let's do it
    Exec 1: we all get bonus for saving ourselves $BIGNUM bucks.
    Exec 2: Sweet! ... Time Passes...
    Captain Crunch: *2600Hz whistle* now can I get free long distance calls?
    Execs 1..N: FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU.....

    hence the development of SS7.

    Now if we can get this, which network is going to be "phoning home" to report electrical usage? even if the traffic is sufficiently encypted, and authenticated, what happens when someone decides to start DOSing their electrical meter? that and, eventually, and i stress eventually, any encryption can be defeated. it's only a matter of time before someone figures out how to fake electrical readings from the new smart meters, or better yet, hacks and publishes the hack, for certain brands of meters.

    • by BobMcD (601576)

      Interference may be an issue, but existing accounting practices can already mitigate most of what you're talking about. And privacy, as far as I know, doesn't really exist with the electrical company. Give me your address, and I can tell you what you paid a month ago. I may have to be pretending to buy the property to get them to tell me, but that's not exactly difficult.

  • by grandpa-geek (981017) on Monday October 18, 2010 @12:45PM (#33935322)

    First, the power grid has not been dumb. It has been pretty smart for decades. The Smart Grid is a major upgrade, but it isn't a scratch start from a dumb basis.

    The existing grid includes sophisticated control centers and sophisticated microprocessor-based protective devices that sense faults and make corrections. Power grid equipment runs into problems all the time (such as equipment failure, storms, and curious animals) and handles them most of the time without putting the lights out.

    The grid has always had two infrastructures: an electrical infrastructure (power lines, transformers, generators, etc.) and an information infrastructure. Decades ago, the information infrastructure was rudimentary. Now it is much more extensive. With the Smart Grid it will be even more extensive and will have much more interface to systems at the customer site. However, major upgrades will be needed to integrate massive increases in intermittent renewable energy such as wind and solar, to manage pluggable electric vehicles, and to vastly improve energy efficiency, reduce costs, and improve reliability. That will require standards. That is what the Smart Grid is doing.

    Work on some of the Smart Grid standards, including the ones recently forwarded to FERC for rulemaking, started as long as 25 years ago. Those standards need to be deployed. Others will need to be developed.

    Second, the Common Information Model is an abstract data model that covers the utility enterprise. It has little or nothing to do with transmitting data over power lines. That is called Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) and (like real estate having three factors in prices -- location, location, and location) it has three problems: interference, interference, and interference. To make BPL work you have to solve the interference problem.

    • by kiwimate (458274)

      Glad to see you got modded up. This guy is spot on. Smart Grid work has been primarily focused on operations (with planning a distant second), and now people are just beginning to realize that if you have two way communications below the aggregator level then that's a lot of data that's going to be coming in, and we'd better make sure we have some standards around how it's structured. This is also becoming big news in cyber-security and reliability circles (e.g. NERC).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I currently work developing smart appliances and load reduction devices. The smart grid is about sending commands and control information to devices that consume (or generate power) on the grid. For example the Texas deployments use a wireless mesh network ( typically 900MHz) to communicate between electric meters, the meters then use ZigBee (2.4MHz) to communicate with devices with in the home. Typical communication is: the time, current price of electricity, future prices for electricity and load redu

  • Make sure the 'Smart Grid' [wikipedia.org] is interoperable with the Internet and all data networks.

    Simplifies things for the attackers, doesn't it?

    How about they design some security into it first, eh? Just sayin...

  • "Any network designed to carry data instead of just electrons" will not only be locked in a specific protocol standard, but will also be designed "for security" - that is, to only allow "good data" and not "evil data". The definition of "good" and "evil" will of course be up for sale to the highest bidding MAFIAA.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.

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