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Smart Meters and Privacy


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#1 Afterm4th

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 01:43 PM

Ok I seen this yesterday: Posted Image

and then I watched this:




So based on this information we know that smart meters are hackable. We also know that some meters will give power companies the ability to know all sorts of data about you.


Here's the question: what's the best way to interfere with their data while still being legal about it.


I don't want them to know when I have a shower and when I do my laundry. At this point I do not have a choice as smart meters are already installed where I live.


Would it be possible to mask what appliances are in use by installing a house-wide UPS? Or could I put a large magnet near my mains to corrupt the signatures of all my appliances so they cant tell what im using and when?


I'll continue to research this topic and keep this thread updated with what I find.

#2 serrath

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 03:19 PM

Any solution to this problem is really just going to wind up costing you a lot of cash. To truly mask your activities you'd need constant power draw or a regular cycle unrelated to your activity. This is a bad idea, let it go. They're not trying to track your showers, they're trying to figure out what uses the most power and sell that information to companies so those companies can work on making the right devices more power efficient. I get that everyone on here is paranoid about privacy, but you're being paranoid in the wrong places.

#3 Afterm4th

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 04:17 PM

Any solution to this problem is really just going to wind up costing you a lot of cash. To truly mask your activities you'd need constant power draw or a regular cycle unrelated to your activity. This is a bad idea, let it go. They're not trying to track your showers, they're trying to figure out what uses the most power and sell that information to companies so those companies can work on making the right devices more power efficient. I get that everyone on here is paranoid about privacy, but you're being paranoid in the wrong places.



I wasn't looking for advice on the matter. I was looking for information.

If I wanted life advice I would create a live journal and ask people for advice.

#4 serrath

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 06:55 PM

If I wanted life advice I would create a live journal and ask people for advice.


I'm sure I'm missing the point, but wouldn't LiveJournal be a terrible place to get life advice?

This is inconclusive but probably helpful:
http://rdist.root.or...-a-smart-meter/

Not relevant to what you want to know, but maybe some of the people involved have relevant information:
http://rdist.root.or...e-than-thought/

Fairly relevant, not very substantial:
http://www.scmagazin...power-bill.aspx

Really just google people breaking the thing and follow the scent.

#5 mSparks

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 10:34 PM

A UPS seems a decent place to start.
Charge when the price is cheaper and run off the UPS when prices are more expensive.
Or, if you have the sun, go "off grid" (almost?) entirely now the price of solar is crashing so hard (cells currently falling in price at 50% YoY).

EDIT TO ADD:
I don't think being able to tell what TV program you were watching will help them make your refrigerator more efficient.

Edited by mSparks, 11 April 2012 - 11:03 PM.


#6 serrath

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 11:13 PM

A UPS seems a decent place to start.
Charge when the price is cheaper and run off the UPS when prices are more expensive.
Or, if you have the sun, go "off grid" (almost?) entirely now the price of solar is crashing so hard (cells currently falling in price at 50% YoY).

EDIT TO ADD:
I don't think being able to tell what TV program you were watching will help them make your refrigerator more efficient.


UPS would just draw to recharge as soon as you use power. It's not going to mask anything. Plus lead-acid batteries are expensive and not exactly long-lived when constantly drained and recharged.

Being able to tell what TV program you're watching isn't part of the smart metering, it's a perk to hacking it. The point is it needs better encryption in its present form, but nothing serious is compromised so it's not a pressing issue. The power company's really just interested in what's drawing the most power so they can sell that information to companies like GE and make a pretty penny.

Paranoia on these forums is really a little extraordinary.

#7 mSparks

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 11:39 PM


A UPS seems a decent place to start.
Charge when the price is cheaper and run off the UPS when prices are more expensive.
Or, if you have the sun, go "off grid" (almost?) entirely now the price of solar is crashing so hard (cells currently falling in price at 50% YoY).

EDIT TO ADD:
I don't think being able to tell what TV program you were watching will help them make your refrigerator more efficient.


UPS would just draw to recharge as soon as you use power. It's not going to mask anything. Plus lead-acid batteries are expensive and not exactly long-lived when constantly drained and recharged.

Being able to tell what TV program you're watching isn't part of the smart metering, it's a perk to hacking it. The point is it needs better encryption in its present form, but nothing serious is compromised so it's not a pressing issue. The power company's really just interested in what's drawing the most power so they can sell that information to companies like GE and make a pretty penny.

Paranoia on these forums is really a little extraordinary.

1. UPS would just draw to recharge as soon as you use power.
Just switch the charging circuit on a timer. (or better, a time/usage based switch)
2. Plus lead-acid batteries are expensive and not exactly long-lived when constantly drained and recharged.
Switch to a pulse reconditioner when not recharging for maximum battery life.
3. Being able to tell what TV program you're watching isn't part of the smart metering, it's a perk to hacking it.
Erm no, being able to tell what TV program you were watching is part of smart meter data mining, nothing to do with the meter or hacking it.

4. Cost.
LAB is around $0.17 per watt/h
so say $1700 for 10kWh (which is fairly high consumption? - I use around 30kWh a day, but I'm "super high consumption"), which would allow you to shift even a high usage entire days consumption to the cheapest rate, in the UK at least night rate is 41% of day rate 12p/kwH day, 5p/kWh night
That alone would allow you to offset up to 70p a day, £255 (~$400) a year, recoup initial cost in ~4 years (should be the same whatever your consumption).
+ you need/will already have a UPS if you have solar panels + all the benefits that come with having protection from the grid.
+ reconditioning LAB is v. cheap, esp if you go with the big chunky truck batteries.
For a large home entertainment system & fridgeFreezer on their own circuit a UPS setup would cost around $500 to build, and should last a couple of decades. Any self respecting hacker should have this already, regardless of privacy issues with smart meters. Combined They draw around 4kWh a day, which is two large car batteries for 12 Hours backup (fridge freezer is 0.8kWh a day, so if the grid power fails this will keep the fridge running for over 2 days).
Throw in a petrol generator if you are really paranoid.

Edited by mSparks, 12 April 2012 - 12:46 AM.


#8 Afterm4th

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 04:02 AM

UPS would just draw to recharge as soon as you use power. It's not going to mask anything.


I dont quite agree. Isn't the signature of an electrical appliance is unique to that appliance? I would suspect that the power provider can still tell when you use your electrical appliance, but not what appliance it actually is.

Would a power conditioner built into the UPC also make hiding the signature more effective?



Do any of you have smart meters? Mine is a siemens,
Posted Image


I just watched this:

& http://smartmeterblocker.com/

Someone is already out there making money off of this idea. I don't know how effective these would be to protect you from hiding the signature of your electrical appliances.

I've never seen the inside of a Siemens smart meter. They very well could have onboard storage. I have found out that they're roughly 1 watt transmitters. That's quite powerful, more powerful than your average home router. So we know it has some beef to broadcast.

I think that effectively blocking a smart meter will depend from meter to meter. Im also starting to think there are just too many ways to get the data from the meter to the utility company.

Rather than putting the whole house on a UPS like mSparks is suggesting (which is a sweet idea in its own)
Could a Faraday cage on an appliance also make it harder to detect the signal?



but nothing serious is compromised so it's not a pressing issue.

I know that my power provider has the ability to figure out what shows I watch. I didn't sign up for that when I agreed to get my power from them. There's no way to opt out. I consider this a very pressing issue. That's just me tho.

I hope some one with more knowledge of electricity can enlighten me.

Also, this: http://imgur.com/a/FJ3X9

Edited by Afterm4th, 13 April 2012 - 04:31 AM.


#9 serrath

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 01:59 PM

I'm not sure what you mean by putting a faraday cage on an appliance. A faraday cage just shields a device from EM radiation since the charge of a conductor exist only on the surface. While that's perfectly useful for blocking the communication capabilities of your Smart Meter it doesn't make a lot of sense to stick that on household appliances since the meter's reading your usage from the line, not an antenna.

If you're worried about privacy, that little faraday cage they cooked up to cover the meter should do it. If they've got onboard storage you'll know when they disassemble the blocker to get the data. It's also about a hundred to a thousand times cheaper than the UPS solution depending on how carried away you get with that.

#10 Afterm4th

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 04:40 PM

I'm not sure what you mean by putting a faraday cage on an appliance. A faraday cage just shields a device from EM radiation since the charge of a conductor exist only on the surface. While that's perfectly useful for blocking the communication capabilities of your Smart Meter it doesn't make a lot of sense to stick that on household appliances since the meter's reading your usage from the line, not an antenna.


The Faraday cage idea is just brainstorming.



If they've got onboard storage you'll know when they disassemble the blocker to get the data.


They would most likely come around when Im not there and since I live in an apartment I wouldn't even see them coming as they'd enter via the electrical room which is on the other side of the building.

Im sure that the shielding wouldn't work if there's a receiver directly next to the smart meter. Also I've read that some smart meters have a hardwire fiber optic data cable and some other models have infrared to transfer data. If there is onboard storage I doubt the shield will be much help.

Edited by Afterm4th, 13 April 2012 - 04:41 PM.


#11 serrath

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 01:46 PM

Talk to a meter-reader and ask what the procedure is for checking a smart meter that doesn't transmit. The everymen reading the things got nothing to hide, they'll spill all.

#12 Afterm4th

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 01:47 PM

Talk to a meter-reader and ask what the procedure is for checking a smart meter that doesn't transmit. The everymen reading the things got nothing to hide, they'll spill all.



mmhmm. Need to find one first.

What would be great is if some one leaked a bunch of tech manuals, or even better, service manuals for the smart meters.

Edited by Afterm4th, 14 April 2012 - 01:48 PM.


#13 serrath

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 02:26 PM

Sounds like a solid social engineering task.

#14 Afterm4th

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 05:34 PM

smart meters in my area are "openway" made by itron, not siemens as I had originally thought.

Here is a whitepaper on their security. Not exactly what Im looking for, but still good reading..
https://www.itron.co...ityoverview.pdf

whitepaper on their wireless signaling
https://www.itron.co... Duty Cycle.pdf

datasheet:
https://www.itron.co... Cell Relay.pdf

data management on meters:
https://itron.com/na...paper_FINAL.pdf

Edited by Afterm4th, 14 April 2012 - 05:39 PM.


#15 nyphonejacks

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 02:34 PM

smart meters in my area are "openway" made by itron, not siemens as I had originally thought.

Here is a whitepaper on their security. Not exactly what Im looking for, but still good reading..
https://www.itron.co...ityoverview.pdf

whitepaper on their wireless signaling
https://www.itron.co... Duty Cycle.pdf

datasheet:
https://www.itron.co... Cell Relay.pdf

data management on meters:
https://itron.com/na...paper_FINAL.pdf

not much to contribute other than a photo of a meter reading car with antenna on roof on my blog from several months ago http://blog.nyphonej...ntennas-on.html

kind of creepy that they are able to tell that they know what stuff you are using based on the electrical signature of the equipment. I would assume some sort of device could be placed between the electrical supply and device to filter the signal from passing thru to the electrical company...

this seems to be a bigger concern that what it appears.. it seems many people posting so far are only considering the commercial implications of this much data being available for your electrical usage patterns and identification of the devices that are drawing power in your home... however, there seems like it could be much more than that with legal implication.. we all know that the phone companies gave up their data to the feds with out warrants and were provided retroactive immunity - what is not to say that the electrical companies will not share freely this information with law enforcement agencies... while i am sure that the main thing that this would be useful in prosecuting would be grow houses, who says that it would end there...

i have to go over the information in the links as i do not understand how this technology would allow them to know what channel i was watching on television...

#16 serrath

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 06:49 PM

Really, a power line filter should be enough to prevent them from seeing what you do. Just no guarantees there or anything 'cause I haven't exactly hooked up an oscilloscope to my power line.

Edited by serrath, 16 April 2012 - 06:51 PM.


#17 mSparks

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:42 PM


smart meters in my area are "openway" made by itron, not siemens as I had originally thought.

Here is a whitepaper on their security. Not exactly what Im looking for, but still good reading..
https://www.itron.co...ityoverview.pdf

whitepaper on their wireless signaling
https://www.itron.co... Duty Cycle.pdf

datasheet:
https://www.itron.co... Cell Relay.pdf

data management on meters:
https://itron.com/na...paper_FINAL.pdf

not much to contribute other than a photo of a meter reading car with antenna on roof on my blog from several months ago http://blog.nyphonej...ntennas-on.html

kind of creepy that they are able to tell that they know what stuff you are using based on the electrical signature of the equipment. I would assume some sort of device could be placed between the electrical supply and device to filter the signal from passing thru to the electrical company...

this seems to be a bigger concern that what it appears.. it seems many people posting so far are only considering the commercial implications of this much data being available for your electrical usage patterns and identification of the devices that are drawing power in your home... however, there seems like it could be much more than that with legal implication.. we all know that the phone companies gave up their data to the feds with out warrants and were provided retroactive immunity - what is not to say that the electrical companies will not share freely this information with law enforcement agencies... while i am sure that the main thing that this would be useful in prosecuting would be grow houses, who says that it would end there...

i have to go over the information in the links as i do not understand how this technology would allow them to know what channel i was watching on television...



Really, a power line filter should be enough to prevent them from seeing what you do. Just no guarantees there or anything 'cause I haven't exactly hooked up an oscilloscope to my power line.

This isn't "EM" signature they used to profile the equipment, its the power usage profile - TVs, for example, use more power when displaying a bright image than when displaying a dark image - only way to mask that is to spread the power consumption over a longer time period (>20 minutes), filters live in the millisecond time domain (and will actually make it easier to profile).
Its a lot like extropating speed from a GPS track that only has position and time, only way you can hide you did 10mph for 5 minutes then 100mph for 10 minutes is to have 10 minutes between each GPS tuple.

Oh, and leccy companies already work closely with law enforcment (in the UK anyway), I get raided every time they read the leccy meter - 5 times now - last time they had to buy me a new front door. afaik they still haven't paid the guys who fitted it.

Edited by mSparks, 16 April 2012 - 08:54 PM.





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