Author Topic: Electricity "smart" meters  (Read 3380 times)

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Electricity "smart" meters
« Reply #50 on: November 01, 2019, 05:47:02 pm »
The more I hear about so-called ‘smart’ stuff, the more scope there seems to be for the ‘bad guys’ to take it over for their own purposes; I must admit, I don’t see how the bad guys could subvert an energy meter to their own malignant ends, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they found a way.

Isn't it possible to use these data to get an idea of when you're in or out? Burglars might find that useful if they were able to hack in.

Offline aricooperdavis

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Re: Electricity "smart" meters
« Reply #51 on: November 01, 2019, 06:53:06 pm »
I think that's being a bit paranoid.

I'm sure it's possible to break the encryption on these things (the same encryption used to protect your details when you bank online), but if you can break that encryption then you're not going to be burgling houses, you're going to be a) hired by the government to work for GCHQ b) killed by the government before you can use your skills or c) rob a bank. And if you take your mobile phone to work with you then you've already accepted the risk of someone being able to hack you and know where you are. And phone hacks are much more likely.

Also, your electricity use doesn't necessarily correlate very well with whether you're in the house. At 3am you're asleep in bed with no lights, no TV, no stereo, so you're probably minimum energy use. At 3pm you're probably at work, so no lights, no TV, no stereo, identical energy use...

Burglars would be better off looking to see if your car is in the drive, or looking to see if your lights are on, or knocking on your door and pretending to be a cold caller if you answer.

One final thing, from a cyber security perspective most "hacks" happen because people fall for phishing scams, or don't virus scan the film's they torrent, or use the same passwords for everything. If you want to reduce your vulnerability to cyber threats then that should be your first port of call.

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Electricity "smart" meters
« Reply #52 on: November 01, 2019, 07:18:35 pm »
To be fair, Adrian Turner's point above is quite persuasive.

Offline aricooperdavis

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Re: Electricity "smart" meters
« Reply #53 on: November 01, 2019, 08:07:59 pm »
It's the same with smart water meters - the potential that the data from them has is enormous; from helping to identity leaks from water distribution networks to preventing combined sewer overflows into receiving waters!  :)

Offline Fulk

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Re: Electricity "smart" meters
« Reply #54 on: November 01, 2019, 10:53:55 pm »
Well, aricooperdavis, your attitude seems to me to be borderline complacent / smug. I know one young guy who works in IT (and makes a lot of money doing so) who was scammed; I’m sure he wouldn’t have fallen ‘for phishing scams, or don't virus scan the film's they torrent’ (whatever ‘don't virus scan the film's they torrent’ means).

Offline JasonC

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Re: Electricity "smart" meters
« Reply #55 on: November 02, 2019, 07:59:59 am »
Well, aricooperdavis, your attitude seems to me to be borderline complacent / smug.

Fulk, I think Ari's point was that there are easier and more profitable ways of scamming you than hacking your smart meter.

If there is a concern about your data being more accessible, I would guess it would be from the energy companies trying to 'monetise' your personal consumption data (in ways other than the laudable aims of efficient capacity planning).

I'm struggling to think how even that could be a risk - maybe they would start pestering people to install Economy 7 if they spotted that their overnight consumption was near zero?  Or 'we've noticed that your gas consumption is higher than average for similar properties - why not buy a new efficient boiler?'  That sort of thing.  Not the biggest of deals, arguably.

Offline aricooperdavis

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Re: Electricity "smart" meters
« Reply #56 on: November 02, 2019, 01:02:42 pm »
Well, aricooperdavis, your attitude seems to me to be borderline complacent / smug.

I didn't mean to offend, and I'm sorry that it came across that way, I find it very hard to convey tone/attitude in textual communication. The tone I was going for was humour, but on re-reading I can see that I didn't get it right - sorry!

By no means am I saying that only idiots get hacked, nor that doing the things that I listed are idiotic - it's hard to force yourself to do things that have a high cost to convenience (such as have different passwords that you have to somehow remember or store). This is especially difficult when computers exist solely to make things more convenient for us, and when technology develops so fast that these threats evolve and change rapidly. I think I've done all of those things that I've listed. I've been hacked because I didn't update a wordpress implementation fast enough and someone exploited a known vulnerability.

My point was that we have to place our trust in the networked systems that we don't ourselves have control over in order to live in today's society, and that for the most part this isn't a big cyber security risk compared to the systems that we do operate ourselves. We're happy to accept these slight risks when the benefits are obvious; I use a mobile banking app so that I don't have to leave work early to get to the bank on time. And I store my credit card information with PayPal to facilitate buying things. But it's harder to accept those risks when the benefits on the surface don't seem to be worth it. I was trying to illustrate that the risk is very low in this case, and to put it into perspective using the risk that we adopt in other parts of our lives.

I feel positively about smart meters - they are the eyes of the supply industry. How can we expect electricity/water suppliers to operate effectively if they don't know how much they need to provide? Granted, they can make a good guess of that information from other sources like meters on trunk mains, but the improvement in resolution is like being short sighted and wearing glasses - it can hugely improve their performance.

I want to reiterate that I didn't mean to sound smug or patronising, that was my error, and I apologise to anyone who I offended.

Offline aricooperdavis

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Re: Electricity "smart" meters
« Reply #57 on: November 02, 2019, 01:07:51 pm »
If there is a concern about your data being more accessible, I would guess it would be from the energy companies trying to 'monetise' your personal consumption data (in ways other than the laudable aims of efficient capacity planning).

That's a use that I hadn't considered, and I suspect it's not unlikely in the future. We're becoming very apathetic about the monetisation of our personal data (another discussion entirely I think), and it's hard to know where people will draw the line. I can't imagine many people would care enough to read the small print on their electricity contract - I certainly don't!

Offline Fulk

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Re: Electricity "smart" meters
« Reply #58 on: November 02, 2019, 03:52:32 pm »
Thanks for clarifying things, aricd

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Electricity "smart" meters
« Reply #59 on: November 02, 2019, 06:31:43 pm »
Your remarks didn't read in any way offensive to me at least, Ari Cooper-Davies.
In fact, thanks for some interesting and useful comments.

Offline maxb727

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Re: Electricity "smart" meters
« Reply #60 on: November 04, 2019, 12:26:08 pm »
Something I saw today at work, kind of shows a bit about smart meters too.





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Offline Ian Ball

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Re: Electricity "smart" meters
« Reply #61 on: November 04, 2019, 02:28:07 pm »
Thank you!

Offline kay

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Re: Electricity "smart" meters
« Reply #62 on: November 06, 2019, 06:34:59 am »
OK, dumb question time. The first of those videos is talking about the increase in often small renewal energy supplies, and goes on to talk about limiting the times at which energy can be exported to the network - presumably to the times of high demand. I can see some logic in that, in that you don't have to construct a means of storing surplus energy. But the final punchline is that this will enable us to increase the use of renewable energy, and I don't quite follow that step.

Offline mountainpenguin

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Re: Electricity "smart" meters
« Reply #63 on: November 06, 2019, 09:43:36 am »
at the moment renewables or other generation capacity may be not allowed on the network due to the networks inability to cope with peak production.
ensuring that renewables are controllable means you can over provision and have closer to full coverage.

Offline Robert Scott

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Re: Electricity "smart" meters
« Reply #64 on: November 06, 2019, 08:28:46 pm »
Sorry to digress from smart meters, but about "renewables"
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/20/orkney-northern-powerhouse-electricity-wind-waves-surplus-power-hydrogen-fuel-cell?CMP=share_btn_link

and not worrying about overloading the input to the National Grid by using that excess energy to provide energy stores.