Vital Privacy Loss: Can Smartmeters Tell Burglars When You are Away?

We need Smart-ER meters
(c) Copyright 2011 David Dilworth

Would you publish a newspaper ad that lets burglars know when you are going on vacation? Well, that’s essentially what “smart”meters do.



Vital Privacy Lost: Smartmeters Broadcast Your Private Information:

Smartmeters broadcast your utility usage information to everyone within a mile or so of your home. They need a more powerful signal than your WiFi or cordless phone because they have to transmit much farther and must transmit through walls with certainty.

So now burglars don’t even have to drive over to see if you are home – they can just find out if you are away by getting your information from a simple antenna (using free WiFi hacking software). When you are home your power usage increases and fluctuates. When you are away it is low and very stable.

Q: So what? Smartmeters information is coded so they can’t read it.

A: PG&E says the information is encrypted, but . . .

Smartmeters are Easily Hacked:

According to computer security experts – “any computer system can be hacked.” Indeed, yesterday (March 19, 2011) hackers broke into the computers of RSA, the world’s leading computer security company. They stole vital password tools which can be used to break into online bank accounts. “Security firm RSA gets hacked, ID token data stolen”

A September/October 2009 article in MIT’s “Technology Review” by Erica Naone explains four ways the “Smart” grid and smart meters can be hacked. She writes “Researchers say new energy infrastructure isn’t nearly secure enough.” These methods are explained in everyday English by a long time computer industry reporter in “Four Ways to Hack the Smart Grid.”

Second, while Homeland Security and any savvy burglar can get your personal power use information easily, you can’t. Smartmeter dials don’t show you any more than existing “safe meters.”

You can only get your own “time-of-use” power information over the internet, it doesn’t display on the meter itself. That means there is a second way anyone (any burglar) can also find out if you are away by logging onto PG&E and guessing (or crack) your password using an ordinary laptop computer.

Smart-ER meters Protect Your Privacy

There is no need for your utility corporation to have your personal “time-of-use” information. A “smartER”-meter would take your use data and increase billing during high use periods (afternoons) and lower it during low use periods (nighttime). Such a meter never needs to send your personal data to the utility corporation. Lets call that device an “Autonomous Privacy Protection Utility Meter” or “Smarter-meter.”

Who Else Can Turn Your Power On and Off ?

At the February 2011 Monterey City Council meeting, Councilman Jeff Haferman asked PG&E “If the customer’s power can be remotely turned off by the meter, could a hacker turn off an entire neighborhood [- or a whole town]?” PG&E claimed they couldn’t answer that. They said they’d get back to him. (As of March 19, they have not done so)

An electrical contractor explained how while working on a large electrical substation recently, he learned Homeland Security and the Department of Defense has control over the American Electric Grid, and the new “Smart-Grid.” He was told that when Smartmeters are installed, both agencies will have the ability to shut down power to anyone they want.

The Wall Street Journal reports that HomeLand Security already monitors all information carried on the Grid, and the FBI has admitted they have the ability to turn on your cell-phone microphone and listen to your conversations – even after you have turned your cell-phone off !

With “Smart”meters how much “kill-switch” control will the FBI, the CIA, NSA and Homeland “Security” have over your home energy power and your home electronics (or be able to turn ON your computer and other devices)?

Welcome to Orwell’s 1984 — on steroids.


Here’s an excerpt from a filing by Center for Democracy & Technology and the Electronic Frontier Foundation on Privacy Threats of the Proposed Smart Grid :

“. . . the Smart Grid presents new privacy threats through its enhanced collection and transmission of detailed consumption data – data that can reveal intimate details about activities within the home and that can easily be transmitted from one party to another. The following aspects of these expanded data flows represent a profound shift from the traditional customer-to-utility relationship:”

“(1) Granularity of Usage Information: The Smart Grid entails collection of much more detailed data about consumer energy consumption than previous
technologies allowed. Whereas historically a consumer’s consumption data may have been collected once a month or less frequently from a traditional meter fixed to the side of a house, in the Smart Grid, sophisticated new systems will collect and record this data at much shorter time intervals—down to real-time or near real-time intervals. The emergence of increasingly sophisticated metering technologies is enabling the unprecedented collection of energy consumption data—from 750 to 3,000 (or more) data points a month— and will reveal variations in consumption that can reflect specific household activities such as sleep, work, and travel habits.”

“(2) New Types of Information: Smart Grid technologies collect a much greater variety of information than has been collected by conventional energy services. In addition to detailed energy consumption data, utilities may collect distributed generation data, unique identifiers and functionality of home appliances, temperature inside the home, and location information of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, just to name a few.”


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3 Responses to Vital Privacy Loss: Can Smartmeters Tell Burglars When You are Away?

  1. Pingback: What’s Wrong with “Smart”meters? | HOPE: News and Community

  2. Pingback: Smartmeter Articles on HOPE’s Blog | HOPE: News and Community

  3. niel43 says:

    thats right, every word precious stone

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