By B.N. Frank
Opposition to utility “smart” meters – electric, gas, and water – has been worldwide for over a decade due to numerous problems associated with them including
Of course, the cybersecurity risks alone are enough to freak anybody out.
The Dangerous Consequences of Remote Disconnection of Smart Electricity Meters and Cyberattacks on Utility Servers
Chief Technology Officer at Mirach Innovations FZ-LLC.
Smart Meters are an essential part of modern power grids, allowing utilities to monitor energy usage and manage the grid more efficiently. However, the increasing adoption of Smart Meters has also raised concerns about the potential risks of cyberattacks on these devices. If hacked, Smart Meters could be used to disconnect power to an entire city, leading to devastating impacts on public safety, the economy, and essential services.
One of the most significant risks of Smart Meter hacking is the potential for large-scale power outages. Smart Meters allow utilities to monitor energy usage in real-time, which means that they can quickly identify and respond to power outages. However, if a cybercriminal gains access to Smart Meter systems, they could potentially use this information to disconnect power to an entire city.
A widespread power outage would have far-reaching impacts on public safety and the economy. Hospitals, emergency services, and other critical infrastructure would be severely affected, potentially leading to loss of life and damage to property. Businesses would also be impacted, with many forced to shut down operations until power is restored. The longer the power outage, the more significant the economic impact would be.
Another potential impact of Smart Meter hacking is the loss of sensitive data. Smart Meters collect detailed information on energy usage, which can provide valuable insights into a household’s daily routines and habits. If a cybercriminal gains access to this data, they could potentially use it for malicious purposes, such as identity theft or fraud.
Smart Meter hacking could also lead to significant disruptions to essential services. For example, water treatment plants, sewage treatment plants, and transportation systems all rely on electricity to function. A power outage caused by Smart Meter hacking could disrupt these services, leading to significant health and safety risks. The situation can be worst than a city in the middle of a bloody war.
Unfortunately, there have been several documented cases of Smart Meter hacking. In one instance, a group of hackers gained access to the Smart Meter systems of an electricity provider in Puerto Rico, causing a widespread power outage that affected over a very large number of customers. In another case, a hacker gained access to the Smart Meter systems of a US utility, allowing them to disconnect power to several homes. (pls refer: https://cyberscoop.com/mandiant-utility-hack-smart-meter-red-team/ and https://www.smart-energy.com/regional-news/north-america/hacking-smart-meters-a-defence-warning/ )
Another documented case is of Lucknow city in India where 150,000 Smart Meters where disconnected and was an act of sabotage. (pls refer https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/smart-meters-make-consumerspowerless-on-janmashtami/articleshow/77514206.cms or https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/national/smart-meters-across-seven-cities-in-up-disconnected-due-to-technical-error/article32341021.ece )
Mitigating the Risks with current technologies are not adequate
To mitigate these risks, utility companies must implement robust cybersecurity measures, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and encryption. Employees must also be trained to be vigilant and aware of the threat of cyberattacks and take appropriate action if an attack occurs. Governments and regulators must also impose stringent security requirements, enforce penalties for non-compliance, and invest in research and development of new security technologies. Even after implementation of all these cases there have been documented cases of Smart Meters being disconnected in an unauthorised manner. Needs to be done more on this front.
Smart Meters are vulnerable to cyberattacks, and the potential consequences of a widespread power outage caused by Smart Meter hacking are severe. Utilities and Smart Meter manufacturers must take extensive measures to secure Smart Meter systems and prevent unauthorized access. The consequences of failing to do so could be catastrophic, with far-reaching impacts on public safety, the economy, and essential services. It’s crucial to remain vigilant and innovate new ways to protect Smart Meter systems from cyber threats.
Despite all of the above, utility providers worldwide continue to force “smart” meters on consumers (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) so they can remotely control and/or ration utility use (see 1, 2) and collect consumer usage data to sell and/or share with 3rd parties (see 1, 2). Additionally, proponents continue to insist “smart” meters are beneficial to consumers and essential for “energy efficiency” even though reports continue to say otherwise (see 1, 2, 3, 4). D’oh!
Activist Post reports regularly about “smart” meters and other privacy invasive and unsafe technologies. For more information, visit our archives and the following websites:
Top image: Pixabay
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