Engeland: Smart meters?
woensdag, 23 maart 2016 - Categorie: Berichten Internationaal
23 maart 2016
GCHQ steps in over fear £11bn smart meters being installed in millions of homes may be HACKED
GCHQ steps in over fear £11bn smart meters being installed in millions of homes may be HACKED - leading to gas supplies being cut off.
· Smart meters use a 12-year battery but there are concerns these could fail
· GCHQ fear hackers could turn off UK's energy supply or 'blow things up'
· Experts are concentrating on ensuring whole system cannot be shut down
· Research shows that meters make no difference to gas and electricity use
Smart meters being installed in millions of homes are at risk of failing or being hacked, which could cut off gas supplies in winter, it is claimed.
The meters use a battery which should last 12 years, however there are concerns these could fail or run down earlier.
Once the battery stops working the meter automatically shuts off the gas.
Technology experts also say the meters can be controlled remotely through Wi-Fi signals – which despite security measures, could mean hackers are able to turn off the supply.
Fears over hacking are so great that British spy agency GCHQ has built in additional safeguards for the meters, after discovering loopholes in designs abroad.
Using one single encryption code across the whole system would present a national security risk as it could let hackers switch off the UK’s energy supplies or even ‘start blowing things up’, an official told the Financial Times.
Experts have worked on ensuring that the overall system can remain secure if one part of it is compromised by an attack.
The national smart meter rollout is predicted to add £11billion to energy bills.
While families do not pay an up-front fee, the cost is being passed on through bills as they are installed over the next five years. The Government is backing the introduction of the meters, which are designed to give households up-to-date information on their energy use.
Ministers believe this will encourage families to use less, helping the UK meet EU carbon reduction targets.
However research shows that, over time, the meters make no meaningful difference to use of gas and electricity.
Experts also claim the meters’ technology is out of date and threatens the biggest IT fiasco since the failed computerisation of NHS patient records.
British Gas customer Martin Thompson had a nightmare experience after a smart meter was fitted at his home in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.
On two occasions – in March last year and January this year – the meter stopped working, turning off the gas on cold days.
The first failure was blamed on a software fault. The second time, an engineer said the meter’s 3.4 volt lithium battery, which claims a life of 100,000 hours, was flat after just 18,648 hours.
Mr Thompson said the technology was ‘a bad design’, adding: ‘What happens when everyone has a gas smart meter and a cold day turns up and we all lose our gas? The old designs of both gas and electricity meters were simple, reliable and fit for purpose.’
British Gas insists there is no evidence of a widespread problem with meter batteries.
But technology expert Nick Hunn, of WiFore Consulting, said: ‘This sort of incident should be ringing alarm bells.
‘Problems like this may just be a one-off, but they could also be an early warning of an unexpected design error.’
The meters can be controlled by energy companies through a private Wi-Fi link. Mr Hunn said this creates a risk they could be hacked, adding that a cyber-criminal or disgruntled energy firm employee could potentially turn off a large number of meters remotely.
Smart meters are attractive for energy firms because they can eliminate the cost of hiring meter readers. In theory, the change will also do away with inaccurate estimated bills.
British Gas said Mr Thompson’s case was a one-off, adding: ‘We currently have over two million smart meters installed in homes and have had no other reports of battery failures.’
The Department of Energy and Climate Change said safeguards against hacking were in place.
A spokesman said: ‘Smart meters will operate on a secure system that only authorised parties, such as energy suppliers and network companies, can access. We have put in place robust security controls which are based on international standards and industry good practices.’
By Sean Poulter for the Daily Mail
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