Meeting EU Deadlines Stresses Need to Establish Adequate Data Privacy Framework in Smart Meter Deployment – UK Legislation Makes Good Example.
Data confidentiality and integrity is crucial for smart meter operation. End user concerns about loss of privacy and data protection delay the pace of meter deployment, especially in Europe. As rollout must begin soon to meet European Union (EU) deadlines, the need for adequate data privacy frameworks becomes more pressing. Employing ICT tools will enable energy companies to comply with reporting requirements as well as security assurance procedures.
“The United Kingdom is a good example of using a legislative approach to balance customer data privacy concerns with the supplier and distributor interest in accessing meter data to perform operational duties” – notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst, ICT, Ewa Tajer.
“A single entity in Data Communications Company (DCC) has been assigned to manage the communications and data network to support smart meter deployment. Thanks to this move, the UK has effectively centralised data management to a national entity and clearly defines criteria related to data access and customer right boundaries,” she adds.
The government states smart metering requirements in its Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications (SMETS). Energy companies must fulfil procedures around appropriate data protection standards. This includes initial and on-going risk assessment and annual security risk audits. Physical security measures are required to protect equipment that interacts with smart meters.
These procedures stress the need for increased ICT spending to enable energy companies to comply with reporting requirements as well as security assurance procedures. From secure communications services to integrated emergency services within the enterprises to critical infrastructure protection, ICT vendors are expecting a sustained period of demand for hardware, software, and applications to optimise existing ICT infrastructure.
“Deploying millions of smart meters is a security expert’s nightmare,” says Ms Tajer. “Providing access to critical network components, such as that in an electricity system, opens up subsequent risks of malware within the grid.”
Preventing malicious hacking will require both software investments and clearly defined security frameworks for data access, processing and control. If security issues remain unaddressed, smart meters may bring more threats than benefits.
Ms Tajer summarises:
“Cyber security investments will be an increasingly important expenditure for smart utilities in the long term. According to our estimation cyber security spend will add another 12.0 to 18.0 per cent of capital expenditure to European energy companies’ investment in a smart grid environment by 2017.”
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