The Smart Grid as Big Brother

Another entry for the collection of devices to automate guard labor. The folks at Pay Technologies sell widgets that disable stuff if the loan payments aren’t made on time. It’s another good example of how these system are first deployed to control the behavior of weak players in the economy. PaytTech pitches their system to car dealers who want to sell to people with lousy credit.

Where to start? Talk about a tempting hacking target! There must be a similar system sold to utilities, landlords, industrial equipment lessors, and mortgage holders. This sentence sounds like litigation just waiting to happen: “Should the customer miss a payment, the vehicle will be disabled at a time when it is least likely to be in use ( i.e. 4:00 a.m.).”

I’m thinking this casts a different light on the phrase “smart grid.” Adding a guarding function to the smart grid’s function changes the pitch to utilities.  In addition to enforcing their own billing they could sell enforcement services to others, e.g. the mortgage holder and landlord.  It will take years for the consumer protections, due process, and appropriate security procedures to catch up.

I have a bad feeling that anybody with a bit of hacking skill and experience using the PaytTech dealer UI would be able to do a lot more damage that this  guy who disabled an entire fleet of cars.

2 thoughts on “The Smart Grid as Big Brother

  1. bhyde Post author

    I’d be surprised if the chance of a Toyota suffering uncontrolled acceleration was larger than the chance of having these guys disable your car.

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