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Connecticut Utility Selects IBM for Secure Smart Meters

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July 14, 2011

Connecticut Utility Selects IBM for Secure Smart Meters

By Meenakshi Shankar, TMCnet Contributor


UIL Holdings Corporation, a Connecticut-based electric and natural gas delivery company, has chosen IBM (News - Alert) to help secure its smart meters and Advanced Metering Infrastructure from vulnerabilities and security attacks, IBM official said in a press release.


"As energy networks are transformed to become more intelligent, utilities must establish secure platforms that are protected from physical or cyber attacks in order to protect critical business assets and maintain customer trust," said Guido Bartels, general manager, Energy and Utilities industry at IBM and chairman, Global Smart Grid Federation.

 "Smarter energy is about improving the performance and sustainability of our energy systems. Ensuring those systems are secure is fundamental. UI is part of the global movement to develop smarter infrastructures that reduce complexity and operational risk," Bartels added.

As indicated, the United Illuminating Company (UI), wholly owned subsidiary of UIL, is upgrading its electric energy grid with smart meters to enhance consumer experience and operational efficiencies. With the use of the new smarter utility meters, UI can 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. With the need to have an added layer of security to protect against unauthorized public access, UI chose IBM to provide the cyber security controls needed during the advanced meter deployment.

"With the increase of network connections, we needed a solution that could ensure the security of our data flows, making IBM's security solution the clear choice for us," said Joseph Santamaria, UIL Holdings vice president of IT and chief information officer.

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. 

In addition to securing the advanced meters, this project will allow UI to create a secure environment for information exchange with its partners, vendors, and customers. UI is also using IBM System p Servers and XIV Storage Systems for data management in their enterprise data center in addition to smart meters provided by Landis and Gyr.

Back in December 2010, IBM announced the availability of new online software services that enables better automation and control of IT Service Desk functions. This new service adds to IBM's software-as-a-service offerings that help automate a range of IT services critical to maintaining business operations.


Meenakshi Shankar is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf







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