“Full Speed Toward an Iceberg” — Silver Spring HACKED

An embarrassing blow to Silver Spring Networks and the utilities (like PG&E) that have bought in to their wireless-mesh-networked-AMI debacle: The New York Times reports that a hacker known as “Atlas” went on stage at a computer security conference in Florida on Thursday and demonstrated how easy it is to hack in (and presumably disrupt) new smart grid mesh networks, and the utility services that depend on them.  Stating, “I see these placed everywhere I want to be as a hacker,”:

Atlas said he was able to intercept Silver Spring’s radio frequency communications, in part, by examining publicly available patents and user manuals.

Silver Spring Networks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Although Atlas did not think an attack on the smart grid was imminent, he expressed concern that unless the systems were tested now, “10 years down the road they will be a real problem.”

“We are at a time in great need of vigilance,” he added.

Indeed.  Not only are Silver Spring’s wireless signals making people sick, they also contain (your private) data- data that is at risk of falling into the wrong hands.  The Florida demonstration follows last October’s announcement by USC researchers that they had hacked into the wireless signals from smart meters on an apartment complex, revealing detailed portraits of life in each unit:

The detailed electricity data gave information about activities within the household — when the inhabitants got up, went to work and got home, for example. The team was able to deduce that 27 of the apartments within the complex were unoccupied.

Silver Spring’s smart meter mesh networks are a microscope into your home life- an unwanted intrusion and privacy invasion that most people never approved- or even knew about in advance of installation. Those same data and access vulnerabilities are writing a new chapter of uncertainty when you consider that wireless, remote “off” switches are a function of most smart meters.

What if someone gains access and decides to- flip the switch?

This entry was posted in California, Citizen rebellion, Florida, PG&E, Smart Grid. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to “Full Speed Toward an Iceberg” — Silver Spring HACKED

  1. Mia Nony says:

    What if some installer forces their way past you to bring microwaves into your home? How many assaults are being tracked as the microwave regime unfolds globally?
    Check this out and please comment to the journaist or the paper – This is right now in “No Opt Out” (for those who never opted in), in BC, Canada:
    B.C. Hydro storming ahead with new meters by Rob Shaw – January 18, 2013:
    http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/b-c-hydro-storming-ahead-with-new-meters-1.51363
    (Times Colonist: – http://www.timescolonist.com/contact-us)
    B.C. Hydro storming ahead with new meters

    by Rob Shaw – January 18, 2013

    The battle over smart meters is heating up, with B.C. Hydro dispatching a new wave of installers and warning holdout customers that they can no longer reject the devices.

    Thousands of B.C. residents who have refused to accept the meters are receiving letters from B.C. Hydro this month that read “we can no longer delay the installation of a new meter at your home.”

    “The reality is that this is a necessary upgrade to the electricity system that supports our entire province and economy,” said Cindy Verschoor, spokeswoman for the $1-billion program.

    “B.C. Hydro needs to compete the installation and move everybody over to the new system, and so we have notified customers that we will actually be coming back to do the installation.”

    Hydro has faced fierce opposition from some residents, who say the wireless technology used by the new meters is unhealthy. Many people have blocked Hydro from replacing their old devices. Hydro has insisted the new meters are safe, and will provide more accurate billing and a host of new services.

    In December, the B.C. government granted Hydro an additional year to finish installing the devices.

    The new meters measure electricity use for billing and send the information to B.C. Hydro wirelessly, eliminating the need for human meter readers. The devices also monitor electricity flow and can send alerts about power outages, which Hydro said will help it to restore power faster.

    About 93 per cent of customers have had their meters switched, but almost 140,000 holdouts remain. In Greater Victoria, 95 per cent of customers have the meters, Hydro said.

    But resisting smart meters is about to get harder. Hydro’s next wave of installers plans to ignore signs from homeowners that request the company not install smart meters, Verschoor said. Installers have also been instructed to remove bars, boxes, locks or other barricades that might prevent access to the old meter, she said.

    “If we come across a barricaded meter, the barricade will be removed,” Verschoor said.

    If the meter is in a house or garage, and Hydro has been given a key, installers will go inside to replace the device, she said.

    The only way to stop an install is to be at home when Hydro (or a representative from subcontractor Corix Utilities) arrives. Even then, Hydro will immediately dispatch a roving customer service person to start a face-to-face conversation, Verschoor said.

    “They will physically come to the door so that the customer can talk to a real person and have their questions answered,” she said.

    “We find that makes a big difference.”

    For now, Hydro is stopping short of physically forcing its way past protesting homeowners.

    Verschoor said no decisions have been made on how to deal with people who continue, in person, to refuse Hydro access to the meter.

    The new push has outraged smart meter opponents, who call it “goon tactics.”

    “Basically, the reports coming in right now are Corix is showing up, they are threatening people, saying they don’t have choice, they have to take a meter, and when people turn them away, they have the B.C. Hydro people coming back shortly after,” said Jim Smith, president of StopSmartMeters.ca.

    “They are coercing, they are bullying, they are literally just trampling over our democratic rights.”

    Smith said he’s advising opponents to guard their meters, turn away Hydro or Corix personnel, and ask for all communication to be made in writing.

    Hydro said it cannot allow old meters to remain because it would require the company to maintain two types of electricity metering and billing, which would result in increased costs to customers.

    rshaw@timescolonist.com

    • nick says:

      Hi! Hydro just called me too! They even LIED that Silver Springs is not a mesh network, and that BC’s network is better because it’s mesh. They say the signals go out 3 times/day and they are as weak as the old cell phones or as cordless phones. I gave them a good beating over the phone. If it is so harmless and weak how does it go thru concrete? So, I told them that they need to send a guy over from their private testing company in North Van and we will see at each of the three intervals how much radiation comes out. He said they would send someone, but I doubt it!

  2. Electra says:

    I’m SURE those that designed the “smart” grid mesh networks had NO IDEA that these meters were so hackable. Because, surely, if they KNEW BEFOREHAND that there was such huge vulnerability, they would have never put them up in the first place.

    There’s no way those in positions of power (no pun intended) would want to MAKE IT EASY to knock large swaths of our power out here in the United States and around the world. That would be the height of idiocy – or worse.

    Right?

  3. Some Bubbles says:

    Now I’m convinced you guys are sensationalist fools. There probably isn’t even such a thing as electromagnetic sensitivity. I’ve never met anyone who has such a condition. You *MUST* have some other agenda, because you keep dropping my posts. I can only assume that you do so because you dislike my message of reason.

  4. Hieda Keeler says:

    I think we should recomment hash tags. We could take pictures and upload our meter reading with no cost or bother to the power company. This would avoid police using the wireless router on your meter to see into your home like an airport scanner. Newport news Police officers are doing that to me – per one of their own!

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