David Aaronovitch (“Give thanks that you’ve got spies in your TV,” Comment, March 9 http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/whats-all-the-fuss-about-spying-tvs-wl8zlhdp5) takes a ‘glass half full ‘ approach to the technical ability of the global intelligence services to remotely control digital technology.
But the ‘glass half empty’ approach can be more alarming.
Infiltration can be achieved by not just the security services employed to protect populations and democratic systems, but by malevolent individuals and groups, including cyber –terrorists.
The published literature now warns that not just digital televisions attractive to the CIA, but smart meters, currently being rolled out to all households in the UK, may be infiltrated.
One alarming academic article by Dheeraj Gurugubelli and Dr Chris Foreman, assistant professor in the School of Engineering Technology at Purdue University, sets out how a targeted attack on smart meters could potentially result in the shutdown of the power grid, disabling energy delivery systems. (“Identifying the Cyber Attack Surface of the Advanced Metering Infrastructure,” by Foreman and Gurugubelli, The Electricity Journal; Volume 28 1, January–February 2015, pp 94–103; http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1040619014002899)
They argue that “The compromise of even a single smart meter through focused attack or reverse engineering potentially provides access to the AMI network as a whole. This, coupled with the extensive use of multiple wireless technologies and geographic dispersion, results in an attack surface of unprecedented scale.”
In a more recent commentary piece in SmartGrid Awareness (January 7, 2017) concludes “Unfortunately and regrettably, it may take an actual catastrophic hacking event where millions of smart meters are turned off in a way that cannot be turned back on for smart meter proponents to acknowledge that these meters and their associated communications infrastructure are too dangerous to have ever been deployed.” (“Smart Meter Deployments Result in a Cyber Attack Surface of “Unprecedented Scale,” https://smartgridawareness.org/2017/01/07/cyber-attack-surface-of-unprecedented-scale/)
Are ministers aware of this vulnerability to the UK national infrastructure?