In a rush to take advantage of U.S. stimulus money, utilities are quickly deploying thousands of smart meters to homes each day — smart meters that experts say could easily be hacked. The security weaknesses could potentially allow miscreants to snoop on customers and steal data, cut off power to buildings, and even cause widespread outages, according to a number of experts who have studied the meters, and looked into smart-grid systems. A new paper out of the University of Cambridge highlights privacy concerns from smart meters, as well as security risks caused by linking home-area networks, of which smart meters are an initial piece, to utilities. “From a hardware perspective, cell phones today are more secure than many of the smart meters in deployment,” said a security researcher based in Germany who has previously analyzed mobile phone and smart card security. “Those meters, however, may be used as attack vectors into the spheres of power distribution and generation, as well as into customer databases at the utilities,” the security researcher said.

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