Loss of control over Enercon Wind turbines due to satellite outage highlights cyber risks

Highlights :

  • Disruptions occurred in satellite based communication that impeded remote monitoring and controlling of 5,800 wind turbines of Enercon.
  • German cyber security agency BSI is aware of the disruptions and wind turbines are presently running on auto-mode.
Loss of control over Enercon Wind turbines due to satellite outage highlights cyber risks

A ‘massive disruption’ in satellite connections has affected operations of more than 5,800 wind turbines in central Europe, said Enercon, Germany’s leading wind turbine manufacturer.

Enercon informed that on Thursday, the satellite connections stopped working that knocked out the remote monitoring and control systems of the wind turbines. The disruptions impacted 11 gigawatt (GW) worth wind turbines.

The company said, “The exact cause of the disruption is not yet known. The communication services failed almost simultaneously with the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.” Enercon declined to share any further information as to who or what may have been behind the disruptions.

The cyber disruptions affected about 30,000 satellite terminals that are used by companies and organisations spanning various sectors in Europe. To resolve the disruption at earliest, the company has informed cybersecurity watchdog BSI (Federal Office for Information Security) of Germany which has the mandate to clear the challenge.

Enercon said that it’s also working with the satellite communication network providers to resolve the disturbance.

BSI announced that the organisation was aware about the satellite communication malfunction which hindered the maintenance of wind turbines. No further detail was shared by BSI.

The cyber security watchdog said, “However, no effects on power grid stability are currently expected due to redundant communication capabilities of the responsible grid operators. Further investigations into the cause are being carried out by the company concerned in close exchange with the responsible authorities.”

“Enercon is working with the operators of the affected wind farms to set up alternative ways to regain remote control of the turbines,” said BSI. Enercon said that the turbines are operating on auto-mode at present and no risk persists.

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