SECURITY EXPERTS have warned the UK government that so-called smart meters could be used by hackers to defraud Brits and steal their personal details.
The 'no sh*t' warning comes after GCHQ, in December 2016, forced a delay to the rollout of second-gen smart meters, known as SMETS 2, after it was revealed that energy companies were proposing to use a single decryption key for communications the meters that UK gov wants installed in every home in the UK.
At present, only eight million out of 27 million households have so far signed up to the £11 billion scheme.
This fresh warning, reported by The Mail on Sunday, comes as energy firms prepare to roll out the long-delayed SMETS 2 meters, which unlike current SMETS 1 systems, will be common to all electricity and gas suppliers and means customers will no longer have to change their smart meter if they change supplier.
Security experts have warned UK gov that the universal meters could enable hackers to artificially inflate meter readings and intercept payments.
Another potential problem is the meters being used as a 'Trojan horse' to access other internet-connect gadgets around the home, which could potentially give hackers the ability to steal personal information.
"Let us not get carried away - these meters can do real good and will hopefully stay safe. But hackers could disable energy supplies and break into other gadgets around the home if your meter becomes able to talk to other devices," said Daniel Miessler, director at cybersecurity firm IOActive.
Nick Hunn, of London-based firm WiFore, added: "This smart meter technology has created a Trojan horse.
"My understanding is that the British spy agency GCHQ were not best pleased when it realised how insecure these devices could be and it is still not happy. That is why it has taken so long to release the new SMETS 2 models."
Hunn also says that he believes that countries such North Korea could also use the meters to state-sponsored cyber attack to create a power surge that would damage the National Grid.
"Countries such as North Korea and Russia have the expertise and know-how that might enable them to tap into the on-off switch of a smart meter," he said.
Echoing recent concerns by the US government, which most-recently advised American citizens not to buy smartphones from Huawei or ZTE, Hunn said he is worried that many of the smart meters being installed are made by Chinese firms.
The National Cyber Security Centre, in a message to users, is insisting that the meters have been designed so that "no single compromise can have a significant impact."
"No system is completely secure," the message reads. "But we are confident the smart metering system strikes the best balance between security and business needs while meeting national security objectives." µ
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