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Researchers devise an efficient method to hackproof smart electricity meters

Meter - Instrument of Measurement, Digital Display, Intelligence, Electric Meter, Electricity, Fuel and Power Generation, Grid, Industry, Modern, Business Finance and Industry, Dial, Electrical Grid, Equipment, Gauge, Horizontal, Instrument of Measurement, Kilowatt, Measuring, No People, Photography, Power Supply
  • Cybersecurity researcher Karthik Pattabiraman has developed an automated program that aims at improving the security of smart grids.
  • The method addresses a vulnerability called software-interference attacks in smart meters.

Smart electricity meters can be vulnerable to cyber attacks. As they are connected to a grid, they can serve as a backdoor for threat actors. However, researchers have found a solution to it.

The big picture

Cybersecurity researcher Karthik Pattabiraman at UBC has recently developed an automated program that aims at improving the security of smart grids. The program includes two detection methods for these types of attacks - Design-level analysis and Code-level analysis.

“Our program uses two detection methods for these types of attacks. First, we created a virtual model of the smart meter and represented how attacks can be carried out against it. This is what we call design-level analysis. Second, we performed code-level analysis. That means probing the smart meter’s code for vulnerabilities, launching a variety of attacks on these vulnerabilities,” explained Pattabiraman.

Key point

The method demonstrated by researchers addresses a vulnerability called software-interference attacks in smart meters. Such attacks can allow an attacker to physically access the meter and modify its communication interfaces or reboot it. As a result of these attacks, the meter fails to send data to the grid and perform other actions.

The bottom line

Researchers believe that vendors can leverage the findings to test their designs before they are manufactured. This can help the vendors in boosting the security of the smart meters.

“Our findings can be applied to other kinds of devices connected to a smart grid as well, and that’s important because our homes and offices are increasingly more interconnected through our devices,” Pattabiraman added, HelpNetSecurity reported.

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