When smart meters get hacked

When smart meters get hacked

Following on from the previous blog posting “The smart grid, smart meters, and the risk of cyber attacks” here’s an interesting article from 2014. Just as relevant today as then. It seems in all the hype promoting and rapid roll out the smart grid, little heed is seriously being taken on the very real threat of cyber attacks.


From Nick Hunn’s blog Creative Connectivity

June 8th, 2014 | Published in Smart Energy |

There‘s a lot of talk about grid security and data privacy in the energy industry, but very little about the consequences of what happens if smart meters go wrong.By going wrong, I don‘t just mean people attempting to hack their meters to reduce their bills.That will probably happen.I‘m more interested in the nightmare scenario when several million electricity meters suddenly disconnect.

Whenever I’ve asked a utility about what they’d do if a million meters disconnected, the only response I’ve had is a puzzled look and the reply that “that can’t happen”. It probably won’t, but it could. If it does, the economic effect on the country would be disastrous. It’s probably the most effective terrorist attack available. And the worrying thing is that with the current design of UK smart meters, it could happen.

I wonder whether the right risk analyses have been done about the consequences of such an attack, versus the benefits to utilities of specifying meters which make it possible?

What makes this possible is the fact that every smart meter being deployed in the UK includes a relay which can disconnect the household from the electricity supply. This is controlled by the utility and makes life easier for them by allowing then to manage connections and disconnections from a computer terminal rather than having to send an engineer out to gain access to the house. It’s part of the savings that they claim justifies the deployment of smart meters. It also makes it easier for them to switch customers to prepay if they are in arrears. Again, they don’t need to send out an installer to change the meter – they do it from their computer keyboard.


In other words, it could happen. It doesn’t need to happen now. Once they’re deployed, utilities aim to update the programs in these meters as new functionality is developed or bugs fixed. So at any point in their lives, new malicious code could be inserted….

Read the full article here

Bee placed on endangered list after US habitat loss

Bee placed on endangered list after US habitat loss

AFPJanuary 12, 2017

only bee on the US endangered species list, pollinates economically important crops such as tomatoes
The rusty patched bumblebee, which s the only bee on the US endangered species list, pollinates economically important crops such as tomatoes (AFP Photo/Robyn Beck)

Miami (AFP) – US officials for the first time have placed a bee found in the continental United States on the endangered species list.

Authorities said Wednesday the move was taken after a precipitous decline in the rusty patched bumblebee population, due to pesticides, disease and climate change.

These once common bumblebees are now “balancing precariously on the brink of extinction,” said a statement from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Abundance of the rusty patched bumble bee has plummeted by 87 percent, leaving small, scattered populations in 13 states and one province,” down from 28 states in the 1990s.

The final rule listing the rusty patched bumble bee as endangered appeared in the January 11 edition of the Federal Register and takes effect on February 10.

Experts say the bees are important because they pollinate economically important crops such as tomatoes, cranberries and peppers across the central and northern United States, as well as parts of Canada.

Their decline is likely due to a combination of factors: loss of habitat, disease and parasites, use of pesticides, climate change and extremely small population size.

Their endangered status signifies that they “are in danger of becoming extinct throughout all or a portion of their range,” said a statement from FWS.

“Our top priority is to act quickly to prevent extinction of the rusty patched bumble bee,” said FWS Midwest regional director Tom Melius.

“Listing the bee as endangered will help us mobilize partners and focus resources on finding ways right now to stop the decline.”

Late last year, seven types of bees found in Hawaii became the first to be placed on the US federal list of endangered and threatened species.

The yellow faced or yellow masked bees have become endangered because of a loss of habitat in Hawaii, among other factors, wildlife experts said.


Health Policy Groups Question FCC’s Allowing Manufacturer Violation of Its Cell Phone Microwave Radiation Exposure Limit

Health Policy Groups Question FCC’s Allowing Manufacturer Violation of Its Cell Phone Microwave Radiation Exposure Limit

Majority of cell phones on market may exceed FCC’s stated RF safety limit of 1.6 W/kg, experts warn

January 10, 2017 07:30 AM Eastern Standard Time

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s General Counsel, Howard Symons, Esq., and Associate Chief Counsel in the Office of Engineering and Technology, Bruce Romano, Esq., have offered no acknowledgement or reply to an inquiry posing questions about whether the FCC is adequately enforcing its existing cell phone radiation safety limits.

“We urge the media, all cell phone users and public health officials to contact the FCC, as well as members of Congress, demanding a response to this important letter of inquiry. It appears many cell phones on the market should never have been certified.“ ”

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The inquiry letter to the FCC from Swankin & Turner in Washington, D.C. was sent September 9, 2016 on behalf of the National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy (NISLAPP) and the Environmental Health Trust (EHT). Now four months later, the FCC’s lack of reply to important questions contained in the letter raises serious concerns of regulatory responsibility and competency.

The inquiry letter to the FCC suggests as many as 75% of cell phones on the market today may possibly exceed the FCC’s exposure limit of 1.6 W/kg peak spatial Specific Absorption Rate (psSAR), due to a +/-30% margin of error (or uncertainty factor) in the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) methodology for assessing psSAR (on which the FCC’s exposure limits are substantially based). Any phone with a psSAR of greater than 1.231 W/kg with the 30% uncertainty factor could theoretically exceed the 1.6 W/kg FCC limit.

Examples of how various popular phones brands, and wireless transmitting devices (WTDs) such as tablets, may easily exceed the FCC’s limit, with psSARs as high as 2.08 W/kg, were included with the letter as Exhibit A.

The inquiry letter to the FCC from Swankin & Turner also posed other questions regarding FCC oversight of cell phone and wireless transmitting devices, including how the FCC considers its current safety limit to protect children if the psSAR assessment methodology the FCC uses was never intended to protect children.

L. Lloyd Morgan, Senior Research Fellow, Environmental Health Trust, says, “We urge the media, all cell phone users and public health officials to contact the FCC, as well as members of Congress, demanding a response to this important letter of inquiry. It appears many cell phones on the market should never have been certified.“

Camilla Rees, Senior Policy Advisor, National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy, says, “The FCC has failed to protect children, despite scientific evidence there is significantly greater absorption of cell phone radiation in the brain and bone marrow of the skull in children, compared to adults. So the question of how the FCC considers its safety limits to protect children calls for an immediate and urgent reply. An entire generation looks to be at risk.”

Dr. Devra Davis, PhD, President of the scientific and policy research organization, Environmental Health Trust, adds, “The issues raised in this inquiry letter highlight the FCC’s failures to protect public health. We urge FCC leadership in the new Administration to come to the table with integrity to see that the important questions raised here are answered thoroughly, and that steps are taken to assure compliance with the FCC’s psSAR microwave radiation safety limit.”


Environmental Health Trust
Devra Davis, PhD
Founder & President
L. Lloyd Morgan, B.S.
Senior Research Fellow
National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy
Camilla Rees, MBA
Senior Policy Advisor



Smart Meters and the Internet of Things

Smart Meters and the Internet of Things (IoT)

Here is a very interesting posting on the Smart Grid Awareness web site. Recommended!

We’re Being “Hunted” by Smart Meters and the Internet of Things
Posted on January 13, 2017 by SkyVision Solutions
by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Because of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the deployment of devices like utility smart meters we are quickly losing our personal freedom and liberty and further heading toward Orwell’s 1984 [1]. For those aware of what is happening, we realize that “We’re being hunted,” and that, “We feel like prey.” This process must be reversed if we are to regain our rights as a free people.

“We’re Being Hunted.”

The reference to “We’re being hunted,” is one I found in a law review article [1] on the topic of “When Big Data Meets Big Brother.” In this article by the North Carolina Law Review, it states:

In an age when people’s lives are constantly tracked, recorded, analyzed, and shared by private parties, the doctrine holding that “information knowingly exposed to private parties is unprotected by the Fourth Amendment,” now threatens to swallow whole the privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.

The “Internet of Things” refers to the prospect that nearly everything that can be connected to the Internet will be in the near future. According to one study, by the year 2020, more than 30 billion devices could be wirelessly connected to the Internet. Everything from televisions to refrigerators to electricity meters will be capable of recording data and transferring that data to third parties, with or without a user’s knowledge or consent. SNIP

Read the full article here

Italian Epidemiologist, Distorts Power Line Risks

Paolo Boffetta, Italian Epidemiologist, Distorts Power Line Risks

From Louis Slesin, Microwave News


Facts don’t seem to mean much anymore. We live in a “post-truth” time. As 2017 opened for business, a stark example of the new reality came to our attention courtesy of Paolo Boffetta, an Italian epidemiologist now at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

In an interview with Fox News, Boffetta said that the link between power lines and childhood leukemia had been debunked. In response to a question as to whether it was safe for a pregnant woman to live next to “huge power lines,” Boffetta advised that there was no reason for concern.

Boffetta has lost his truth compass. The power-frequency EMF link to cancer stands.

This is not the first time Boffetta has courted controversy. SNIP

Read the full story here

Health Implications of Long-term Exposure to Electrosmog

Health Implications of Long-term Exposure to Electrosmog

Karl Hecht

Effects of Wireless Communication Technologies A Brochure Series of the Competence Initiative for the Protection of Humanity, the Environment and Democracy e.V. Brochure 6

As a physician, if I wish to try a new therapeutic agent or a new diagnostic device on my patients, I have to meet strict legal requirements for compliance. Studies must be carried out in a certain sequence, following specified standards. This is the right thing to do and reasonable. We would have no reason for complaint if manufacturers and distributors of technical devices, which may be damaging to human health and the environment, would have to meet the same standards for the protection of the same—which is not happening at this time. Over the last century, a rapid technical development has occurred that—as is usually asserted—serves human well-being and provides jobs. The downsides of these successes and advancements, however, are kept silent; for an increasing number of people, the new technical achievements have become a burden. Let us recall a few facts. On a daily basis, harmful chemical and physical agents affect humans and the environment: chemicals as environmental pollutants [Servan-Schreiber 2008]; radionuclides (e.g. from nuclear power plants); noise [Maschke et al. 2003]; ionizing and nonionizing radiation [Becker 1994]. Furthermore, such disasters as Chernobyl and Fukushima can occur at another place at any time. New diseases are emerging. The incidence of known disease keeps increasing, sometimes dramatically so: electromagnetic hypersensitivity, multiple chemical sensitivity, noise sensitivity, tinnitus and auditory processing disorders, depression, sleeplessness, helplessness syndrome with serious consequences of distress, and many others. Yet business and industry mostly ignore any possible connections between these harmful factors and these newly emerging diseases. Even lawmakers, who often are advised by lobbies from both sectors, ignore and downplay the risks that have already been known for quite some time. In addition, even in the event of a scandal being actually exposed, there will almost always follow a message that says that all is well and safe soon thereafter. This is what happened in 2011, for example, when uncontrolled feed with dioxincontaining fats had been given to animals whose meat and eggs were then contaminated with dioxin—a toxin whose effect is thousand times worse than potassium cyanide [Klinisches Wörterbuch Pschyrembel 2007]. The dealing with the risks of nonthermal nonionizing radiation emitted by modern wireless communication technologies is also rather unclear. The fact that humans cannot hear, see, smell, taste, or perceive this type of radiation at all promotes confusion. Therefore, adverse health effects, especially those on the functions of the central nervous system, are ignored and downplayed; repeated claims of safety replace implementing long overdue preventive measures. Since only the thermal effects of electromagnetic fields can be detected with human senses, a dogma widely held by “experts” for the past 50 years claims that only these thermal effects exist or at least are the only ones that can do harm. The truth is that harmful nonthermal effects caused by radio waves in humans have been known since the 1980s: sleep disorders, neurasthenia (also brain fatigue), headaches, and others [Schliephake 1932]. The electromagnetic radiation emanating from radar, television, communications systems, microwave ovens, industrial heat-treatment systems, medical diathermy units, and many other sources permeate the modern Forty years ago, physicians and scientists pressured the U.S. government to issue a report on the effects of electromagnetic fields [Brodeur 1977]. In December 1971, this report was released under the title Program for Control of Electromagnetic Pollution of the Environment. The report was written by experts appointed by the U.S. Office of Telecommunications Policy (OTP) in 1968. This expert report revealed the extent of an environmental risk associated with the increasing use of microwaves in technical communication technologies and in the industry that has hardly been known before. A few quotes from the report will speak for themselves.

Read full brochure at:

Click to access KI_Brochure-6_K_Hecht_web.pdf




5 Things You Must Know About the New Bluetooth 5

5 Things You Must Know About the New Bluetooth 5


How many Bluetooth radios do you own? Answer: More than you probably think. These chips are in your smartphones, cars, laptops, tablets, wireless speakers, headsets, mice, keyboards, game controllers, and others. You may own dozens. Double what you think, since it takes two radios to communicate.

That’s why Bluetooth is the best-selling wireless technology in the world. Billions of radios have been made and sold. Now Bluetooth is ready to add to that impressive outcome with the announcement of its latest version Bluetooth 5.

That’s why Bluetooth is the best-selling wireless technology in the world. Billions of radios have been made and sold. Now Bluetooth is ready to add to that impressive outcome with the announcement of its latest version Bluetooth 5.

Last month, on December 7, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) adopted Bluetooth 5 as the latest version of the Bluetooth core specification. Key updates to Bluetooth 5 include longer range, faster speed, and larger broadcast message capacity, as well as improved interoperability and coexistence with other wireless technologies. Recently, I got a briefing on the new standard from Steve Hegenderfer, Director of Developer Programs of the Bluetooth SIG. Here are some highlights:

1. Two Bluetooth classes: There are essentially two strains of Bluetooth, the older legacy or classic strain that encompasses versions 1.0 through 3.0 (including EDR). The other strain is the low-energy Bluetooth that includes versions 4.0, 4.1, and 4.2. The low-energy version uses a different radio technology than the classic strain.  It employs frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) over the 2.4- to 2.483-GHz spectrum, but uses 40 2-MHz-wide channels rather than the 79 1-MHz channels of classic Bluetooth. Max data rate is 1 Mb/s. Most of the newer Bluetooth chips actually contain both types of radios.

2. Bluetooth 5 is an enhancement to the low-energy version: Version 5 bumps the data rate up to 2 Mb/s. It still uses the same GFSK modulation, though. The higher data rate decreases the transmission time of the messages sent to better conserve power. The basic power output level is 0 dBm or 1 mW, but higher-power classes of Bluetooth can also be used. The options are 4, 10, or 20 dBm for extended range.

3. Extended range: Low-energy Bluetooth has a nominal range of 10 to 30 meters. Bluetooth 5 extends this to the 30- or 50-meter range. Actual range depends entirely on the environment, but longer range means more potential uses. With a line-of-sight path, the range can be many hundreds of meters. The longer range in Bluetooth 5 is achieved by using a strong forward-error-correction (FEC) scheme to correct errors. It trades off speed for range, which is a positive feature for some applications.

4. Greater message capacity: The new version 5 ups the payload capacity of it packets. Data packets can now be in the 31- to 255-octet range, and that means fewer transmissions and less broadcast time.

5. Interference mitigation: Bluetooth 5 also incorporates features to better minimize interference. Remember Bluetooth shares the 2.4-GHz ISM band with Wi-Fi, ZigBee, and a bunch of other wireless devices, so there’s a greater likelihood for interference. The new features detect and prevent interference at the band edges.

With these key improvements, Bluetooth 5 is set for greater adoption in the Internet of Things (IoT) arena. New applications in the consumer home-automation space, such as controlled lighting, are possible.This is especially true for industrial IoT, where the new Bluetooth 5 features are a good fit for low-data-rate sensor reading with greater range, security, and reliability.

One factor that may help Bluetooth 5 expand into IoT apps for the enterprise and industry is the new routers and access controller from Cassia Networks. These products make it easy for Bluetooth devices to connect to via the internet, opening the door to many new potential uses. Version 5 should also expand its reach into the area of beacons for proximity sensing and location messaging.  And all the while, Bluetooth 5 is backwards-compatible with the 4.x versions.

If you’re looking for a wireless technology for your forthcoming IoT project, give Bluetooth some consideration. It’s now more competitive than ever with ZigBee, ANT, and Thread technologies. Market data firm ABI Research forecasts that Bluetooth low-energy version devices will exceed five billion shipments by 2021.

By the way, if you need further details on Bluetooth 5, I urge you to go to the SIG website. The SIG offers a selection of developer kits, too, that speed up and simplify new product design. Also, if you need a good background in the low-energy versions, get the new book Inside Bluetooth Low Energy, by Naresh Gupta, recently published by Artech House.


Krakow’s bold step to curb electromagnetic pollution reflects growing evidence of harm

Krakow’s bold step to curb electromagnetic pollution reflects growing evidence of harm

From The Ecologist

Krakow’s bold step to curb electromagnetic pollution reflects growing evidence of harm
Lynne Wycherley
12th January 2017


As Kraków, Poland’s second city, takes steps to protect its citizens from rising electromagnetic ‘smog’ from mobile phones, wifi, Bluetooth, smart meters and other devices, Lynne Wycherley summarises 2016’s news highlights on the emerging bio-risks of rising exposure to non-ionisiong radiation. For how much longer can governments continue to ignore the growing evidence of harm?

The first mayor of Kraków to be elected by popular ballot, law professor Jacek Majchrowski is tackling an environmental issue most governors avoid: the electromagnetic pollution in his city.

Following work on air pollution, and in response to growing demand, he is initiating forums for citizens to discuss the growing ‘smog’ of electro-magnetic fields (EMFs).

In a world first he is also initiating the provision of meters to detect radio-frequency (RF) / extremely low frequency (ELF) EMFs so people can collect objective data on their exposure.

In December, Majchrowski hosted an international conference on EMF pollution and citizens’ ‘right to information’ – an echo of the new Right to Know law in Berkeley, California (cell-phone sellers must supply safety information).

Speakers included Sławomir Mazurek, a pro-reform Polish minister for the Environment. Majchrowski and his team are now re-zoning mobile-phone masts (cell towers) to reduce EMF exposure levels.

With similar boldness, Argentina’s Lower National Congress proposed a new health law last year to regulate electromagnetic pollution.

Supported by trade unions and NGOs, its radical draft measures included hard-wired networks in schools (also hospitals) – recalling the recent Green-led French law on “electromagnetic sobriety” (2015) and recommendations of the American Pediatrics Society and British Doctors’ Initiative.

A planetary paradox

Across the planet, 2016 had seen a paradoxical trend: anthropogenic radiation from mobile and wireless trends continued to rise rapidly, alongside striking, under-reported findings on its possible bio-risks. SNIP

Read the full article here