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Smart meter dangers: are smart meters safe?

Safety and security have been at the heart of the smart meter rollout, right from the start. You might have heard or read about concerns around smart meter hacking. Or you might want to know about smart meter risks or security vulnerabilities. Here we address your questions and concerns.

Read on to get the facts about smart meter safety.

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Can smart meters be hacked?

Smart meters are secure. Security has been at the heart of the smart meter rollout from the beginning. The system was designed to prevent smart meter hacking as much as possible. While no electronic device can be 100% protected from hacking, smart meters are as safe as they can be.

GCHQ and the National Cyber Security Centre lead the security process that all smart meters have to go through. You can find out more about this on the NCSC website.

Are there any smart meter security risks?

Smart meters were specifically designed with top cyber security experts, to encourage security best-practice at every stage. The system has been specifically designed to prevent hacking.

Smart meters send data through their own dedicated communications system. This bespoke wireless connection shares energy-use data with your supplier, via the DCC. Smart meters measure household energy use only. They do not know when your individual appliances are turned on or off.

Your energy use data belongs to you, and it’s up to you how much you share with your supplier. The more information you share, the more your supplier can support you to better understand and manage your use. But this would always be your choice.

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Smart meter security risks: is my personal information safe with a smart meter?

The information your smart meter holds is about how much gas and electricity you've used. A smart meter doesn't share personal information that could identify you, such as your name, address or bank account details.

Your smart meter shares meter readings with your energy supplier so they can prepare an accurate bill. They cannot share this data further without your permission.

Energy network operators can access some anonymised energy use data to help them run the networks more efficiently. But this information cannot be linked back to you as an individual. To find out more, read our guide to who can access your smart meter data.

All this information about your energy use is strongly protected. The data is transmitted safely, using a dedicated and secure wireless network. You can change your preference for how often you share meter readings by getting in contact with your supplier directly. Your energy supplier may use this information to offer you tailored energy efficiency advice and improve the service they provide for you, but only if you have given them permission to do so.

Is my smart meter listening to me?

No. Smart meters don’t have any video or audio recording components within them, and therefore can’t record anything you do at home. Smart meters are usually installed in the same place as your analogue meter. Inside your home, you will be offered an in-home display. This device simply shows you the data being read by your smart meter – it has no way of recording information. To learn more, read our guide to smart meter data collection.

Understanding the risks of smart meters: fire risk

When it comes to smart meters, fire risk is very low; it's incredibly rare for a smart meter to be faulty.

The installation of any meter (analogue, digital or smart) involves installers working with electricity and gas. This can present a risk, but every possible action is taken to reduce this. Installers are trained to a high specification which includes a NVQ level 2 and, if working with gas, accreditation by Gas Safe.

Also, when your smart meter is installed, the installer will carry out visual safety-checks. This can help discover problems with your other appliances that can potentially be dangerous.

The physical processes for installing a smart meter can be similar to those for installing traditional meters. A smart meter has the same basic electrical and gas connections as a traditional meter and an installer will follow the same mechanical and safety processes for installation.

Smart meters are safe. All smart meters in Great Britain must comply with safety legislation, and have undergone one of the most rigorous safety testing regimes in the world - exceeding every UK and EU safety standard. Safety is a huge priority for government and the industry, and there are processes in place should any incident occur.

So, how dangerous are smart meters?

Smart meters are safe and reliable. While no electronic device is entirely without risk, smart meters have been designed with your security in mind. Top cyber security experts worked on the rollout to prevent hacking. Smart meters only transmit data about your total energy use, so your personal data is protected.

Safety is a priority in the energy industry - smart meters in Great Britain are required to comply with the relevant safety legislation. To learn more about the safety of smart meters, read our guide about smart meters and health.

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