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Water Meters Become Easy to Hack

Have you ever tried to hack a water meter?  Neither have I.  But, studies show that it is now becoming easier than it should be.  The smarter water meters become, the easier they are to hack especially when they are upgraded to include wireless and computer technology.

John McNabb, a security expert who has focused on protecting drinking water, stated that despite a $40 billion-dollar water economy, it’s still far too easy to hack into meters used by utilities around the country.  He concluded that the nation’s 150,000 water utilities have a number of well-known vulnerabilities to cyber attacks and they should fix them on behalf of the 250 million consumers they serve.

“The energy theft when it comes to water theft is billions of dollars a year,” said McNabb.  “Electric utilities assume they use about 10 percent losses to theft each year.  Water could be similar, and it winds up increasing the rates for others.”

Utilities have started to put in wireless water meters that are easier to read and less costly.  This reduces the cost of reading meters.  However, the problem becomes that these meters are easily intercepted, faked or even jammed.  The sensors are unattended and hang on the meter.  Therefore, they can be easily tampered with.

So, if you have an “unfriendly neighbor” and you suspect that your water bill is larger than it seems, make sure you get this checked out.  Better to be safe than sorry.

2 Comments

  1. jerry goodpaster says:

    i have a renter that has a regular water meter but i think they r hacking it there water usage is about half of every 1 else is there any way that they can stop the meter or turn the numbers back so it has less usage then should b please let me know thank u very much

    • Jerry,

      Hello, it is possible to tamper with a water meter but many times the meter is not calibrated or reading correctly. This can be caused for different reasons, damage, age, tampering or other. If the meter is reading correctly, there may be an error on how the account usage is being bills. Sometimes the multiplier on the billing is incorrect on the usages. You can contact the water company to have the meter checked if you suspect it is not reading correctly or has been tampered with.

      I hope this information has helped. Please contact me with any additional questions.

      Thank you,
      Kathleen Barillaro
      kbarillaro@ericryan.com

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