Hardware Hack with MagnetsIn the USA, electricity Smart Meters have been introduced to allow electricity companies to remotely read them and to allow better energy management. Some hardware and software based hacks have been developed, the hardware involves magnets strategically placed to alter readings like for example when air conditioning would run overnight.
There is even a handy video on YouTube on how magnets and distilled water can slow down the meter no matter how much electricity is being used. Although it involves mixing water and electricity which would make me nervous! It shows evidence of reducing bills by 50%!
Software Hack on Smart MetersThe other hacks involve using a security infrared connection designed for engineer diagnosis to allow a computer to connect to the smart meter and change the power recording settings. Security of access is a challenge when rolling out millions of devices of course but I wonder how much time was spent on security during the hardware and software design phase of these solutions? Both of these hacks were preventable but of course are also probably traceable to the homeowner.
Hacked or Cloned Pre-Paid TokensIn the UK, this report (pdf) highlights the problem of fraudsters convincing customers of pre-pay electricity meters to pay. The fraudster will appear to add £50 worth of electricity for the price of £25 using a cloned pre-pay meter key. However the electricity company may detect these, leaving the customer paying £25 for nothing. The latest figures say this happened 88k times costing the industry £2.2m in lost revenues. This is an anti-scam message for consumers.
Wiring bypass of MetersOf course the final way to steal electricity involves actually wiring to bypass the meter altogether. This is probably the most dangerous and involves risk of electrocution and fire. A summary report here.
As electricity gets more expensive, and when it may be powering our cars in the future these frauds are not likely to go away anytime soon.