How To Hack Your Smart Electric Meters

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One of the reasons smart meters were employed was to curb electricity theft. In fact, it is estimated that millions of dollars are annually lost due to electricity theft.

At the cost of sounding unscrupulous, the following are some suggestions made by experts on how to fool a smart meter:

1.)  Spreading Malware To the Smart Meter’s Network

With access to the smart meter’s programming codes, it is possible to connect with all other smart meters in the network that have the same brand. David Baker, director of services for IOActive, a Seattle-based research company , demonstrated this possibility when he designed a virus that could replicate itself in other smart meters and enable a hacker to shut down the system remotely. In simulations, Davis was able to show that if his malware were to be released in a location where all the houses were fitted with the same brand of smart meter, it could spread to 15,000 homes in 24 hours.

2.)  Measuring The Smart Meter’s Electrical Consumption

Inside smart meters are sensors that measure energy consumption. Under the old mechanical meters, interfering with the meter’s ability to report accurately has been the means of many unscrupulous individuals to save money on electricity, like by the use of magnets. The old method used with analog meters may not be difficult to use in fooling the old meters but the new generation of smart meters were designed to protect against such automated methods.

3.)  Attacking A Smart Meter’s Memory-Through Hardware

If a smart meter hasn’t been built with protective features, inserting a needle on each side of the device’s memory chip can do the trick. The needle intercepts the electrical signals in the memory chip. From these signals, a device’s programming can be determined. If security features are in place, it is still possible to obtain the data through customized tools.

4.)  Using A Digital Radio To Hack a Smart Meter

The two-way radio chip in a smart meter allows the device to be read remotely and receive commands over the network. A hacker, who has cracked the smart meter’s programming, can use security codes from the software in the chip to get on the network and issue commands.

5.)  Accessing The Meter

Another method of hacking the smart meter is through a wireless device. Using a software radio programmed to mimic a variety of communication devices, a hacker can listen in on wireless communications in the network and guess over time how to communicate with the meter. Another method is to steal a smart meter and reverse-engineer it; although inexpensive, the process would require a good knowledge of integrated circuits.