UK Government Says Smart Meters Can Definitely Be Trusted Because GCHQ Designed Their Security : techdirt.

UK Government Says Smart Meters Can Definitely Be Trusted Because GCHQ Designed Their Security

from the oh,-that’s-OK,-then dept

The idea behind smart meters — that detailed information about how you consume electricity will allow you to use power more efficiently and thus cut your bills and your home’s carbon emissions — is a good one in theory. And yet smart meters are still not used very widely, even in countries like the UK, where the government has a strategy to install millions of them by 2020. Actually, the likely savings by users are small, but smart meters also promise to allow the electricity industry to lower salary costs by carrying out meter readings remotely, which is one reason why it is so keen on the idea. Another is because smart meters make it is easy to cut off someone’s supply if they don’t pay their bills.

The slow uptake of smart meters seems in part to be due to public concerns about security. People are worried that their smart meter will spy on them, sending back information to electricity companies that might be intercepted and used for targeted burglary when they are away. Similarly, there are fears that if the smart meter control system were compromised, domestic electricity supplies might be at risk on a large scale.

One of UK Parliament’s most important committees, the one monitoring science and technology, has just published a report into the UK smart meter roll-out, offering recommendations for ways to speed it up. Security is an issue it discusses, and one of the committee’s recommendations is as follows:

We recommend that the Government consider further how to communicate the level of thought that has gone into designing a secure system for smart metering

More about that “level of thought” is found in an appendix to the report, which contains the UK government’s evidence on this topic, including the following statement:

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has worked with GCHQ since the very early design stage of the rollout, when the programme was initiated. The engagement with GCHQ has been one of partnership, issue discussion and resolution.

Helpfully, GCHQ has written a long and interesting description of its work on smart meters, and how it has tried to make UK smart meters resistant to attack. The post concludes:

We hope that this article has explained the thinking behind the design of the Smart Metering System. DECC, with support from GCHQ (part of which will be become the National Cyber Security Centre) has security right at the top of the list of things it cares about. Of course, no system is completely secure, and nothing is invulnerable. However, we’re confident that the Smart Metering System strikes the best balance between security and business needs, whilst meeting broader policy and national security objectives.

It’s interesting that the post mentions national security objectives. As Techdirt has reported, one of the worst features of the UK’s Investigatory Powers Bill that is currently wending it way through Parliament is that it creates a legal framework to allow GCHQ and the other intelligence agencies to hack into any kind of equipment in order to carry out surveillance. Of course, that’s really rather easy when you were the one who designed its security systems.

Link : techdirt.

12 thoughts on “UK Government Says Smart Meters Can Definitely Be Trusted Because GCHQ Designed Their Security : techdirt.

  1. Luke

    I would like to ask, what about the spate of fires caused by these metres in the US that are being hushed up???
    I think more research before imposing an other white elephant to feed another American corporation !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Luke

      Forgot to mention, the American metre companies have been trying a massive cover up job in the States for.about a year.
      But a fire chief spilt the beans to a freelance journalist

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Loccie

    ‘However, we’re confident that the Smart Metering System strikes the best balance between security and business needs, whilst meeting broader policy and national security objectives.’

    They are not even saying it is secure, in fact they are saying they have deliberately not made it as secure as it could have been for ‘business needs’.

    A totally secure system would not allow access from outside and if you are just going to want the meter to send readings to you as the supplier no remote access into the meter would be required.

    The statement ‘the Smart Metering System strikes the best balance between security and business needs’ says to me they have programmed in two way communication to allow the business the ability to remove your supply remotely via a kill command i.e. ‘business needs’.

    So they have deliberately programmed in insecurity just so the power company can remove your utilities remotely at will.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hackers could explode horribly insecure smart meters, pwn home IoT.
    Segfault, segfault black out.
    Smart meters are ‘dangerously insecure’, according to researcher Netanel Rubin, with insecure encryption and known-pwned protocols – and, worryingly, attacks reach all the way to making them explode.

    The utility hacker and founder of Vaultra derided global governmental efforts to install the meters as reckless, saying the “dangerous” devices are a risk to all connected smart home devices.

    Smart meters can communicate with devices inside homes, such as air conditioners, fridges, and the like. A hacker who could break into the meters could control those, potentially unlocking doors.

    They could also manipulate the meter’s code to cause fires, something that’s trivially easy at mains a.c. voltages.

    “An attacker who controls the meter also controls its software, allowing them to literally blow the meter up.


    1. DO NOT under any circumstances get a Smart Meter. If a Government Body tells you something is Good and Safe, you know they are lying!! There is plenty of Information on the Internet concerning the Truth about Smart Meters. The ways of generating Electricity will not last too much longer with current consumption. The Stupidity of Governments not Investing in alternate methods. Smart Meters will be Controlled by a single Body, the Government, they will hide that by using other Companies. If they think you use too much Electricity they can switch yours off for how ever long they like. They could switch off entire streets, Towns or Cities for all the People who have a Smart Meter. They are also dead easy to Hack according to a friend of mine. One of the biggest kept secrets in America is their Military Black Projects using Alien Technology have a Source of Free Unlimited Energy. They have not shared that with the American People but they have shared it with certain Multinational Companies. The good news is – I found something on the Internet. Someone in America Uploaded a Video about his anger at the Rip Off Prices of Energy Companies. He decided to do something about it and did a lot of Research. Using Solar Panels and one of those Wind Mills can not only Power his entire House Free, but he could Power the entire street. Have a hunt for it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Slightly at a tangent but what really gets up my nose about mainstream media is how we are fed the necessity for austerity – when it comes to providing for peoples needs, but it is never mentioned when they embark on hugely expensive projects such as HS2 and smart meters for which there is no need and nobody wants.

        Liked by 1 person

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