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How smart devices will fool the Russians

Как «умные» приборы будут дурить россиян

This year, the relevant agencies should begin to develop amendments to normative documents, which will allow you to initiate the installation of residential meters with remote transmission of readings. This procedure officials propose to make it mandatory. According to them, this will allow to restore order in the area of payments for utilities, because the consumption information is automatically sent to the data collection center.

The draft “road map” for the project “Smart city” programme “Digital economy of Russia” suggests that the relevant changes will come into force in July 2019 and will apply until the new buildings as well as buildings after renovation. But with all this talk about the mandatory installation of “smart meters” not just light and water but also the gas (in light of the recent tragic events in Magnitogorsk and Mines), it is logical to assume that this “service” will soon apply to all without exception of households in the country.

Of course, officials claim that the installation of remote metering devices — it is an absolute boon for the Russians. For example, on the official portal of the mayor of Moscow States: smart meters save not only time, but money, as the automatic submission of meter readings eliminates errors or intentionally wrong information about the consumed resources.

11 districts of the Republic of Tatarstan has already started testing the wireless data transmission technologies. The Director for marketing of OJSC “Tattelecom” (key operator of the project) Alexander Smirnov, said: standard LoRaWAN interesting primarily for their energy efficiency and long-range network, unlike the usual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular networks, which makes the standard leader for IoT solutions. It is also important, he said that the Protocol LoRaWAN is an open and widely used throughout the world.

However, experts with whom managed to talk the correspondent “SP”, to put it mildly, not very confident in the absolute security system for remote transmission of data in General and “smart meters”.

To smart meters was cost-effective, they should be as simple and cheap, says the senior engineer of information security Center of the company “infosistemy Dzhet” Viktor Karpov. — Clock mode imposes severe limitations on the amount of energy consumed. And it is unlikely you will be helpful “smart” meter, consuming as much electricity as, for example, a kettle. A consequence of low power is to minimize the computing power of such devices and their additional functions, including, for example, encryption of communication channels. Therefore, manufacturers usually solve the problem of security of “smart” devices as a residual. For bulk devices, for which the maximum true reduce their cost, developers often compromise and work over insecure protocols. Insufficient attention to testing, finding and resolving vulnerabilities used.

— Smart meters, like any device connected to the Internet, — adds the head of Department of information security of JSC “high-tech” Yuri Mironov, — may be vulnerable to hacker attacks. And risks the successful implementation of the attack considerably, if you are building such intelligent systems are not considered (or considered formally) matters of information security. A successful attack on such a device repeatedly demonstrated at various venues, even the competitions in hacking these devices.

— The criminals — says the candidate of technical Sciences, associate Professor, Department of Information technology in the business of the Perm branch of HSE, Director of the project “EMS INSYTE — global system of efficient management of energy resources” Alexey kickin can be change or block the data collected by the devices, as well as on storage of these data is a cloud — based server control software and collecting and processing data. Under threat are themselves a network. Cyber attacks on the city-wide network can cause serious damage to the entire infrastructure, including server stations, data centers, service software and hardware and storage. In addition, if to wireless networks, but the connected meters and other devices, e.g. video cameras, they can also be of interest to intruders.

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You need to understand that wireless metering is the communication Protocol and communication interface, which is characterized by a range of. And if the data transfer takes place in local networks of buildings, for example, Wi-Fi, any active object with the same Protocol and communication interface, which is in the radius signal device, can be considered a potential threat. He is able to, change the data or lock the whole network. It turns out that the smaller the range of the radio signals and the secure transmission Protocol information, the safer the operation of devices in the scale of the city. But when it comes to urban networks, providing a significant range of the signal transmission apparatus according to the Protocol LoRaWAN, for example, then potential threats become more.

“SP”: — If such an attack is still possible, as it may be to resist and how hard can it be implemented?

— To counter attacks on the communication channels between metering devices and the system responsible for collecting the readings, is to use the electronic signature (ES), says Viktor Karpov. — It can help to protect data from modification during transmission. Another effective measure is the encryption of control actions on the device. For example, it can be update firmware, or transfer settings of the metering device. Also, these effects can be protected by electronic signature, for example, by signing the firmware code to prevent tampering.

And finally, in opposition to attacks on “smart” meters will help control the integrity of its parameters, that is, the mapping parameters of the metering device with some reference sample to identify unauthorized changes. It should be noted that the implementation of these measures is only possible with the involvement of the developer of specific metering devices, since this functionality must be implemented either at the level of metering devices and level control system and collects data from these devices.

Of course, agree experts, is effective implementation of protective measures can lower the risks of a successful attack, but in this case, a revised economic indicators since the implementation of protective measures will increase the cost of the project. The greatest monetary and organizational costs spent on periodic reconciliation of data from the meters data in the cloud. For this we need to get all the owners to get to the apartment, collect data and compare them then. You need to build a pulpwood consumption in the building and the systematic analysis of the consumption using cloud services on the subject of the receipt of incorrect data or the lack of them.

At the same time, experts say, in addition to external threats, smart meters have a range purely “internal” faults. So, Alex Kichkin draws attention to a group of problems related to wireless devices, which remove the counting signals with the already installed mechanical devices (for example, water meters), and then transmit data to the network:

— It turns out that dual metering device: a mechanical meter with digital output and the connected wireless device. If it disrupts the contact between the two parts of such a system, the wireless device to the cloud will send incorrect data about consumption. It is necessary to minimize the number of such connections, conduct regular monitoring of performance and periodic reconciliation of data in the cloud with data collected from the meter manually. Another wireless device of data transmission of an Autonomous power system, you need to regularly check the village if they battery. Already developed a metering system that show where and how the counter if he’s right, but they are not massively implemented, and therefore the health of each of the counter — while the responsibility of the owner and headache management companies that can identify broken devices only after verification of the data. And, of course, there remains the question of the quality of communication, access to the network. Signals from the meters are sensitive to interference from electrical equipment, other radio signals etc. In conditions of excess city buildings, radio signals of different frequencies, the problem of sustainable communication in the growing number of wireless metering devices worse.

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“SP”: — And how difficult it is to unite the devices in the network and support its smooth functioning? After all, every network sooner or later may just “unresponsive”. and there is great probability of other unpredictable failures such networks?

It is a very difficult task. Its solution depends on the architecture and scale wireless network. Important and technology that underpins data transfer: Wi-Fi, LoRaWAN, GSM — there are dozens of options, each of which has advantages and disadvantages, limitations in range, security of data, energy consumption. Crashes and “podpisy” in such systems, it is likely that this needs to be treated as given. To maintain uptime, you need a regular diagnosis and prevention, stress testing, the use of quality equipment. And the quality of the products that are mass produced — that’s a separate issue, because in big batches, usually marriage.

“SP”: — it will be Difficult to recover lost when “Padise” data?

— Lost data can be restored. Most of the counters have an internal non-volatile memory, and in the absence of main network, they can send data via backup channels in the backup store, if available in the network architecture. However, there is, of course, not always, because the development of a network of redundant intermediate nodes more difficult and expensive.

Besides, it draws attention Yuri Mironov, “zoo” of devices in the absence of adequate standardization requires the implementation of special platforms IoT-management. And this, in turn, will require investments in the core of such systems and improve the skills of performers, or outsourcing it to the companies-outsourcers. Of course, increasing the complexity of the system progressively increases the probability of failures in its operation, so either you need to include appropriate compensation mechanisms, either, ultimately, leave the ability to roll back to the classic mode of accounting of consumed resources.

— There is no solution of the problem of security of computer aided accounting “in General”, — concluded Mironov. — You always need to consider the scale of systems, equipment, and software, economic indicators, assess the risks. In some cases, especially given the realities of modern administration in housing, perhaps more safely and economically, it is advisable not to hurry with the transition to “smart” devices.

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