UIL Holdings picks IBM to help secure smart meters

Armonk, N.Y., July 13, 2011 UIL Holdings Corp., a Connecticut-based electric and natural gas delivery company, picked IBM to help secure its smart meters and advanced metering infrastructure from vulnerabilities and security attacks.

The United Illuminating Co., a unit of UIL, is upgrading its electric energy grid with smart meters to enhance consumer experience and operational efficiencies. With the use of the new meters, UI is able to collect data on energy consumption and assist many of its 324,000 electric customers in making better energy choices.

As part of the upgrade, UI created an open, shared environment that would allow authorized customers to access their data. However, during this process, UI anticipated its increased susceptibility to a host of threats and recognized that the infrastructure required an added layer of security to protect against unauthorized public access.

UI turned to IBM to establish a secure platform that would provide the cyber security controls needed during the advanced meter deployment. Today, IBM technology is being used to secure UI’s 50,000 advanced meters, with the goal to support a total of 80,000, by the end of 2011.

As the company rolls out additional smart meters to more of its customers, the secure environment will be extended to accommodate the communications platform supporting UI’s entire advanced metering system.

Part of the IBM Solution Architecture for Energy and Utilities (SAFE) framework, IBM’s WebSphere DataPower appliance filters and validates data traffic to ensure incoming and outgoing messages are legitimate. DataPower monitors and scans data as it flows to and from the smart meters to the utility.

This two-way process ensures that only approved data can pass in and out of UI’s corporate system. Malicious information or corrupted data is blocked, logged and reported. This allows UI to monitor all transactions with accounting and auditing functions to mitigate risk and maintain regulatory compliance.

With its authentication capabilities, DataPower provides the reliability, security, and performance needed for UI to advance its systems to build a smarter energy infrastructure and elevate the customer experience with new information.

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