The government has published a consultation to look at requiring “smart devices” to meet “minimum cyber security” requirements by the mid-2020s. It said the wider use of Energy Smart Appliances (ESAs), which include smart meters, could create “new avenues for cyber security attacks”. In 2021, an ethical hacking firm was able to break into a utility’s network and disable smart meters in North America.

The government consultation says that “consumer protection is limited to building confidence”. [Energy Smart Appliances] market”.

It said: “Furthermore, increased use of ESAs and other related services could create risks to the energy system, such as creating new routes for cyber security attacks.”

The government is looking to strengthen cyber security in the industry as more smart devices and connectivity means more ways to hack networks, including energy networks.

The consultation said: “Our intention is to prioritize interventions that reduce the most relevant risks or deliver the most significant benefits, such as compatibility with time-of-use tariffs and minimum cybersecurity requirements for ESAs. Therefore, we take a step-by-step approach to
implementation, with the possibility of applying some measures from 2024.”

According to Shell Energy, the smart meters interact in a closed system called the Smart Meter Wide Area Network, which is maintained to high security standards and approved by the National Cyber ​​Security Center.

The consultation also proposes rewarding consumers based on when they use their electricity, with some of these proposals already in place.

For example, electric vehicle (EV) charging points sold after June 2022 must meet minimum cybersecurity requirements. In addition, EV owners can sign up for services where they receive discounts, rewards or cash back for allowing a third party to monitor their vehicle’s charging time.

The government provides for this through smart meters or other smart devices such as heat pumps. This will encourage so-called “time-of-use tariffs”, meaning energy is likely to be more expensive during peak hours.

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While the consultation focuses on all smart devices, the government acknowledges there are concerns about smart meters.

The consultation states: “However, private communications networks, such as the smart metering home/room network, could also be used. These different communication networks will lead to different cyber security risks. There are also related issues of interoperability, availability, and latency. .”

Interoperability and latency issues have been highlighted by reports that up to four million smart meters may currently be in “dumb” mode, rendering them useless.

There have been reports of problems with meters simply not working or connecting after a customer has changed electricity supplier.

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There have also been several reports of the devices giving very inaccurate readings.

Many consumers have switched to smart meters to monitor their energy consumption in real time after energy prices jumped.

The government says the devices are needed to meet the goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

At the end of March 2022, there were 28.8 million households in the UK with smart meters installed, just over half. By 2025, the government hopes to offer every household in the UK the option of installing a smart meter.


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