The United Illuminating Co. (UI), a wholly owned subsidiary of UIL Holdings Corp., is upgrading its 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 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.
This project also will allow UI to create a secure environment for information exchange with its partners, vendors and customers, and will allow customers to access on-demand meter reads from the UI website without opening UI to traffic hijacking or other potential vulnerabilities. DataPower will provide secure communication for the 80,000 smart meters and other 244,000 automatic meter reading meters.