As California's utilities roll out millions of "smart meters" in the coming years, they're creating, for the first time, the possibility that the electricity infrastructure could be hacked through a home, according to a published report.
San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Edison are in the process of installing 7.3 million smart meters to upgrade services to their entire customer base. The meters will be able to send data wirelessly to the utility and enable workers to turn off power remotely, among other features.
However, one security consultant has raised concern that the meters may make the network vulnerable to hackers.
Mike Davis, senior security consultant for the security service IOActive, told our media partners at the North County Times that he and his team hacked into the smart meters last spring using equipment they had bought on eBay. The equipment he used is no longer available online, the paper reported.
The utilities told the North County Times that they've been working on security since they started the project three years ago and the company supplying the smart meters for both utility companies sent a statement to the paper dismissing the concerns.
"We believe our implementation is very secure and cannot be subjected to the kind of attacks shown by IOActive in their demonstration of unsecured equipment," a spokesperson for the maker said in an e-mailed statement.
This was an isolated test at a Las Vegas convention that does not reflect what is happening in a real-life situation. The hacker used a JTAG device that has been disabled on the new meters according to a Southern California Edison spokesperson.
They are always updating their encryption, their firewalls and authentication systems to protect the system, according to Vanessa McGrady.