[Cryptography] Gaslighting ~= power droop == side channel attack

Henry Baker hbaker1 at pipeline.com
Mon Nov 28 10:21:58 EST 2016

I (finally) saw the 1944 movie Gaslight yesterday, and a prominent plot element was the dimming of the gas lights in a house when someone turned on the gas lights in another room.  In particular, the dimming of the gas lights indicated that someone else was in the house, and the brightening of the gas light indicated when that person left.  Ingrid Bergman's character eventually correlates the gas light dimming precisely with the absence of her husband -- supposedly to his rented office to compose music, but in reality, he's rummaging around in the attic.

The sudden prurient interest of our utility companies (and Google) in precisely monitoring our electrical power and our gas usage possibly be called "gaslighting surveillance".  What worries me is that our state PUC's (Public Utility Commissions) force us all to pay for this surveillance as part of our utility bills.

What's worse is that these utilities want to insert the camel's nose further into our tents by asking us to install "smart" -- aka more precise surveillance -- thermostats in our homes, so we (and, of course, they and the NSA/FBI/DHS via the 3rd party doctrine) can access this information via our smart phones.  Of course, having a perch on our home networks, they can monitor a heck of a lot more than our power consumption and our home temperature.

God forbid we ever get another Gerald Ford or Jimmy Carter in the White House; our "smart" thermostats will turn us into the secret energy police for pushing our thermostats above the "recommended" temperature.

And don't even start talking about Amazon's Echo/Alexa and Google's Home and Apple's Siri.



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