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….