Smart meters leading to the extremes of a cyber attack?

By 2020 the government have planned to replace the traditional gas and electricity meters with new digital smart meters to monitor the energy usage to more than 26 million British homes.

There are many advantages to these new smart meters; the way in which we generate, distribute and consume energy will be more flexible as the meters allow consumers to monitor their energy usage every minute. The smart meters will also enable different rates to be charged at different times of the day i.e. a higher price at peak times and lower prices when demand is low. This will ultimately allow consumers to make decisions about when they use devices.

However with this new innovative technology comes a possible flaw, each meter would house a sim card which the utility companies supplying the gas and electricity would be able to instantly access and would be able to generate accurate meter readings. This sim card effectively acts as a remote and if you fail to pay your bills, the utility companies could terminate your supply of gas and electricity. Fundamentally this does mean that any unwanted individuals in certain countries such as the Middle East or Russia could do the same providing possible security problems.

Professor Ross Anderson who is an expert on cyber security is concerned “from the viewpoint of a cyber attacker…the ideal attack on a target country is to interrupt its citizens electricity supply. This is the cyber equivalent of a nuclear strike, when electricity stops, then pretty soon everything else does too.”

In defense to this security concern, the government is taking a “secure by design” approach, which means that at each stage of development security concerns will be addressed and the government have also created certain requirements to enforce.

Sourced – The Guardian