Who Will Pay The Ransom When Smart Meters Are Hacked Into?

By Catherine J. Frompovich

Do you recall that a hospital actually paid hackers $17,000 ransom for the release of the hospital’s data? That was the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, which paid using Bitcoin in February 2016. Another hacked company didn’t get off so cheaply! The South Korean web hosting company Nayana paid 397.6 Bitcoin, which was equivalent to almost a million dollars! That’s not all.

HealthcareITNews reported under a Privacy & Security heading, “Ransomware: See the 14 hospitals attacked so far in 2016” [to October]. [1]

Renault factories in France and Slovenia were temporarily shut down in May 2017 due to a ransomware attack! Hackers are real, while hacking is big time stuff even for teens who want to exercise their cyberspace prowess or ‘power-hungry’ antics.

Pharmaceutical giant, Merck & Company, was rocked by ransomware at its New Jersey headquarters in June 2017 by the WannaCry virus! Employees were told to close their computers and go home! [2]

In 2016, Forbes published that

According to the latest annual report published by the security team at SonicWall, their Global Response Intelligence Grid saw around 3.8 million ransomware attacks attempted in 2015. That was a modest rise from the 3.2 million tallied in 2014, around 19%.

Last year, ransomware attacks grew at a blistering pace. In total, SonicWall reports 638 million. That’s more than 167 times the number of attacks in 2015. [3]

Business Insights reported ransomware attacks increased 300% in 2016! [4]

In January 2017, NBC News reported “Ransomware: Now a Billion Dollar a Year Crime and Growing.” [5]

So what does the above have to do with AMI Smart Meters?

A smart meter hack is the unauthorized access of a smart meter or its data transmissions for the purpose of obtaining user information or altering communications between the device and the responsible utility. [….] An external party, on the other hand, might hack the device’s data transmissions to obtain information about activities within the premises. [….] There are a number of ways to interfere with smart meters. [….] If data transmissions aren’t sufficiently protected, external hackers can interrupt communications between a smart meter and the utility to access useful information. [….]

The potential also exists for a malware attack that would disrupt the energy grid. According to Raj Samani of the Cloud Security Alliance, smart meter security breaches to date include “insecure meters, hacking of customer details, denial of service attacks and suspected infiltration by foreign intelligence services. IoT Agenda [10]

AMI Smart Meters are nothing short of computers, which will have to be replaced for updated models every 5 to 6 years with utility customers paying for each and every replacement over the years, versus the safe, dependable and unhackable, analog meters that lasted for decades without update-replacements needed!

The operating system for AMI Smart Meters is microwave technology—think cell phones—and those systems and grids are porous, very porous. Any computer-savvy kid or dyed-in-the-wool hacker will be able not only to hack into the electrical network via smart meters, they will be able to ‘cyber stalk’ individuals for nefarious reasons. It’s only a matter of time, since the utility companies do not have safety measures preventing hacking built into their systems run by microwaves. That’s either cost prohibitive or they don’t have the technology available to make them hack-proof, as I understand.

However, what happens when hackers start a concerted effort to take down a utility or a town or a government using the porous AMI Smart Meters as their portal into the nation-wide electrical system? Will ransoms be demanded, and who will pay? Sound familiar? Remember, the USA takes the position it will not pay for the release of hostages.

You may think all the above to be outlandish gibberish, but gung-ho tech enthusiasts don’t bother with designing anti-hacking systems with the next high tech upgrade they think up and implement. Otherwise, AMI Smart Meters would never have been invented since they leave a lot to be desired in many areas.

Safety issues of all sorts, especially those regarding human health affected by non-thermal radiation waves spewed out thousands of times a day by AMI Smart Meters have not been addressed and probably will not be until some drastic event or problems occur for utility companies and the public utility commissions that approved them.

Back in 2012, Greentech Media reported, “FBI Finds Smart Meter Hacking Surprisingly Easy.” [6]

Early in January 2017, security researcher Netanel Rubin stated smart meters are “dangerously insecure” because the gear uses weak encryption, relies on easily pwned [sic / owned] protocols, and can be programmed to explode. [7]

Rubin elaborated further,

If an attacker could hack your meter, he could have access to all the devices connected to the meter. The smart meter network in its current state is completely exposed to attackers. [7]

Rubin claims,

The entirety of the electricity grid, your home, your city, and everything in between will be in control of your energy utility, and that’s a bit scary. [7]

Does all this sound “too out of touch with reality”? Well, here’s the real clincher: A smart meter hacking tool has been built and released! It’s called the “Termineter,” an open-access tool to assess the security of smart meters! [8]

Then there’s this hi-tech hacking device: the Power Pwn, “a DARPA-funded power strip that will hack your network for launching remotely-activated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet attacks.” [9]

Now, what do you think about that AMI Smart Meter forced on to your utility service?

References:

[1] http://www.healthcareitnews.com/slideshow/ransomware-see-hospitals-hit-2016?page=1
[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/06/27/pharmaceutical-giant-rocked-by-ransomware-attack/?utm_term=.11ddd404dde3
[3] https://www.forbes.com/sites/leemathews/2017/02/07/2016-saw-an-insane-rise-in-the-number-of-ransomware-attacks/#1c2e7eac58dc
[4] https://businessinsights.bitdefender.com/ransomware-attacks-increase-300-in-2016
[5] https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/ransomware-now-billion-dollar-year-crime-growing-n704646
[6] https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/fbi-finds-smart-meter-hacking-surprisingly-easy
[7] https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/01/04/smart_metres_ccc/
[8] http://www.zdnet.com/article/smart-meter-hacking-tool-released/
[9] http://www.zdnet.com/article/power-pwn-this-darpa-funded-power-strip-will-hack-your-network/
[10] http://internetofthingsagenda.techtarget.com/definition/smart-meter-hack

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Catherine J Frompovich (website) is a retired natural nutritionist who earned advanced degrees in Nutrition and Holistic Health Sciences, Certification in Orthomolecular Theory and Practice plus Paralegal Studies. Her work has been published in national and airline magazines since the early 1980s. Catherine authored numerous books on health issues along with co-authoring papers and monographs with physicians, nurses, and holistic healthcare professionals. She has been a consumer healthcare researcher 35 years and counting.

Catherine’s latest book, published October 4, 2013, is Vaccination Voodoo, What YOU Don’t Know About Vaccines, available on Amazon.com.

Her 2012 book A Cancer Answer, Holistic BREAST Cancer Management, A Guide to Effective & Non-Toxic Treatments, is available on Amazon.com and as a Kindle eBook.

Two of Catherine’s more recent books on Amazon.com are Our Chemical Lives And The Hijacking Of Our DNA, A Probe Into What’s Probably Making Us Sick (2009) and Lord, How Can I Make It Through Grieving My Loss, An Inspirational Guide Through the Grieving Process (2008)




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