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CES: Security Risks From the Smart Home

CES: Security Risks From the Smart Home

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Ford’s new chief, Mark Fields, said at International CES that the company understood the responsibility of keeping consumers’ data safe as homes and autos become more Internet-connected. Credit Michael Nelson/European Press photo Agency

LAS VEGAS — THE Internet of Things arrived in force at this year’s International CES, the huge trade show here. But while manufacturers at the event painted a rosy picture of connected grills, coffee makers, refrigerators and door locks, security experts and regulators warned that the Internet of Things could be a threat to both security and privacy.

Hackers have already breached Internet-connected camera systems, smart TVs and even baby monitors. In one case, someone hacked a networked camera setup and used it to scream obscenities into a baby nursery.

Connected-home security threats, at least so far, have not usually been about a hacker trying to break into your home or using your data. Criminals aim mostly at giant databases of personal information or credit cards that they can sell on the black market.

Even so, the more connected our technology becomes, the more data our devices and appliances can gather about us. That data can be shared in ways we don’t anticipate or can be revealed as part of larger breaches.

In a speech at International CES, Edith Ramirez, chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission, said the trend toward having so many things constantly connected to the Internet presented serious risks that start-ups and big companies needed to take seriously.

Any device that is connected to the Internet is at risk of being hijacked,” she said in her prepared remarks. “Moreover, the risks that unauthorized access create intensify as we adopt more and more devices linked to our physical safety, such as our cars, medical care and homes.”

The concerns, Ms. Ramirez and security experts say, include widespread collection of personal information with or without consumers’ knowledge, misuse of that information and actual stealing of the data.

And perhaps because connected devices are relatively new, there are few security features built into many of them or the apps and services that power them. Even fewer products exist to lock down your smart home.

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The Bitdefender Box plugs into your Internet router and constantly scans your network and the websites you visit for potentially harmful software or viruses.

One noteworthy product, though — perhaps the sort of device we will see more of soon — was introduced at International CES. It comes from Bitdefender, which makes antivirus and anti-malware software for computers, and is called the Bitdefender Box. The box is a physical device that plugs into your Internet router and constantly scans your network and the websites you visit for potentially harmful software or viruses.

“The whole idea is not to let it inside your network,” said Bogdan Botezatu, the company’s senior threat analyst

“When you’re opening a malicious page, before the page is downloaded, it is intercepted in the box, flags are sensed in the cloud and it doesn’t show up in the first place,” he said.

One common security problem, for example, is that a person visits a website that has malicious code embedded in it. You don’t have to click anything for the code to run, and after it does it can deliver a virus that can co-opt your computer and put it to work as part of a botnet. A botnet is a giant network of computers linked together to break codes or passwords or initiate distributed denial-of-service attacks that can take down entire sites…..

READ FULL ARTICLE AT:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/08/technology/personaltech/ces-security-risks-from-the-smart-home.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

Ontario, Canada-Smart meters not living up to their billing

Jan 05, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

Smart meters not living up to their billing

Conservation-minded consumers see their bills increase, despite using off peak power

Hamilton Spectator

The auditor general of Ontario, Bonnie Lysyk, has been very critical of the Ontario smart meter program in her 45-page report delivered on Dec. 9. She reports that the $1.9-billion project was poorly planned and had a high impact on Ontario electricity costs, but achieved only a small reduction on the power system peak load, while increasing electricity rates for most of Ontario’s 4.8 million smart meter users.

The term smart meter refers to a digital meter that can track “time of use” by the customer of electricity; how much and when, and transmit the data to the supply utility. The information is used to bill electricity at a higher cost when used at “peak” load times, when generation costs are high. The objective is to encourage customers to shift their usage to a time when generation costs are low: The “off-peak” period. The program is promoted by telling electricity users the shift will save them money. The overall program objective is to stop the peak load from increasing and avoid having to invest billions of dollars in new generating capacity.

The smart meter program is in support of the Ontario government’s initiative to look green and help the Dalton McGuinty program of 2004 eliminate coal-fired generation in Ontario.

The AG’s review of the program clearly states that:

• The project was poorly planned.

• No cost benefit analysis was done before the project was started.

• The cost of smart meters and installation was an unknown.

• No proper co-ordination was done with the 73 distribution utilities such as Toronto Hydro and Hydro One in the rural areas to determine their cost of buying and changing meters.

• No monitoring of costs was done during the six years of the program, and there was no cost control as costs escalated. The program was originally estimated at $500 million, the AG’s best estimate of all parts of the program up until 2014 is $1.9 billion.

The AG notes that the program produced only a small reduction in peak load and that it is difficult to measure that reduction. The AG shows that because of ministerial directives, (i.e. the minister of energy through the Ontario Energy Board, the rate regulator) electricity rates have increased. However, increases to the peak-load rates were a smaller percentage than to the off-peak rate. Many customers who transferred some peak-load use to off-peak found that their hydro bill was higher when they were expecting a savings. The AG also reports many problems with smart meter operations and some meter installations are not yet operational.

The estimated cost of $1.9 billion for smart meters is transferred to your hydro bill by way of global adjustment fund (GAF), which pays the money spent on administrative projects such as smart meters, wind and solar generation and other programs. The other part of your hydro bill is the actual cost of generating electricity and delivering it to your home. The GAF has had major increases, from 0.4 cents per kWh in 2006 to 5.5 cents in 2014, and is expected to rise to 6.7 cents per kWh in 2015. The actual generation cost is only 2.7 cents per kWh and is expected to decrease to 2.4 cents in 2015. The GAF showed a cost of $7.7 billion in 2013, smart meters are part of the cost. The GAF is dominating your hydro cost. The AG has made a strong recommendation that this cost should be shown as a separate cost on all hydro bills.

The AG report is a significant criticism of the smart meter program that was poorly planned, with no cost monitoring or control. The result has been very little benefit to the generation system, with the major impact on cost and rates. Ontario rates are higher than all provinces except New Brunswick and P.E.I., and some industries cannot compete. The Ontario economy has suffered.

Andy Frame, P.Eng., is now a consultant in the electrical power industry and was formerly a senior adviser, Electric Utilities, Ontario Ministry of Energy and a past Municipal Hydro chair and chair of the Utility Association

http://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/5240549-smart-meters-not-living-up-to-their-billing/

How to File an Accommodation Letter / Discrimination Complaint Associated with RF Radiation from Smart Meters

How to File an Accommodation Letter / Discrimination Complaint Associated with RF Radiation from Smart Meters

Each state and local gov’t, including a municipal utility (run by local gov’t)  is required to follow the Americans with Disabilities Act under Title II .  Privately-owned utilities may be covered under Title III (see below). The ADA (more at http://www.ada.gov) is enforced by the US Dept of Justice (US DOJ). Privately-owned utilities that accepted federal funding for smart meter and smart grid projects also must follow certain additional federal discrimination laws, such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as amended), as it applies to equal access to program benefits and services (equal access to essential utilities such as electricity and gas or water)**, with enforcement by the US Dept of Energy.

To view all the details on how to file along with Sample letters you can use go to:  http://www.electrosmogprevention.org/take-action-against-smart-meters-ca/file-a-discrimination-complaint-with-us-doj/