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Utility company bolsters data security

The United Illuminating Company (UI), a subsidiary of the Connecticut-based electric and natural gas delivery company UIL Holdings, is upgrading its electric energy grid with smart meters. With the new meters, UI can collect data on energy consumption.

As part of the new system, UI created an open, shared environment to enable authorized customers to access their data. The company anticipated, however, that this process could increase susceptibility to threats, and thereby required an additional layer of security. UI chose IBM to set up a secure platform that would provide cyber security controls during the meter deployment.

IBM reports that its technology now secures 50,000 advanced meters and will support a total of 80,000 meters by the end of the year. The secure environment will also be extended to accommodate the communications platform supporting UI’s entire advance metering system.

According to IBM, its WebSphere DataPower appliance filters and validates data traffic to ensure the legitimacy of incoming and outgoing messages. DataPower monitors and scans data as it flows to and from the smart meters, so that only approved data can pass in and out of UI’s corporate system. Malicious information and corrupted data are blocked, logged and reported. That enables UI to monitor all transactions with accounting and auditing functions to mitigate risk and maintain regulatory compliance.

Joseph Santamaria, UIL Holdings VP of IT and CIO, says, "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."

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