Last week I was working in my yard when the meter reader stopped by to read my power meter. I apologized to him of the excess pile of toys that he had to navigate through to get to my meter. He told me that it was alright and it won’t be much longer and I will be fitted with a ‘Smart Meter’ that will transfer all of my meter data wirelessly.
My security hat immediately came on and I decided I would do some research and try to determine how a ‘Smart Meter’ worked. After about an hour of research it was pretty clear that they keep that information quite guarded, go figure.
Today though I was happy to find a story on Yahoo that addressed the concerns that I had and as it turns out these ‘Smart Meters’ have some gaping security issues, again, go figure.
The meters themselves are supposed to save money. They save the power company money by not having to send people out and read the meter and they save the consumer money by giving you a real time, anytime, view of your power consumption allowing you to adjust accordingly.
But according to Joshua Wright (no relation) a Senior Analyst with InGauardians Inc., there are “egregious” flaws in the meters and the technology that the utility companies are incorporating to handle the data from the meters.
Wright found security issues with five meters, each from different manufacturers. The security holes could lead to a hacker being able to intercept the encryption keys used by the meter to communicate with the access points that collect the meter information.
He discovered that a hacker may be able to change the usage reported to the access points raising a victim’s power bill or lowering it, depending on the shade of hacker. Wright said that while the technology of the meters is new, some of the security vulnerabilities he discovered have been around for 10 years.
While I do look forward to the ability to see my real-time usage I will be keeping tabs on this service in the same manner I do my credit card bill and would encourage everyone else to do the same.
John "Mike" Wright