Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), a Secure ROI for the Utility Industry and Energy Consumer

The utility industry is on the move to modernize its meter reading and data collection system with advanced metering infrastructure. Driven by strong environmental, political and economic factors, and encouraged by legislative policies to conserve resources, utilities are launching demand response and dynamic pricing programs designed to reduce or shift energy consumption to non-peak periods. Consumers will receive real-time energy pricing and offers from the utility to manage their meter, Consumers benefit from lower bills, while utilities benefit from a stable load on the grid and less need to invest in expensive new capacity. 

Behind all of this is new technology, two-way communication between the meter and meter data management system, which allows utilities to remotely manage their metering assets and to reach inside the consumer’s home through wireless sensor networks to display pricing information information, collect hourly or more frequent usage information, and potentially to manage home appliances.

Utilities are upgrading their legacy metering and data-exchange infrastructure to tap into this new capability. However, as utilities deploy AMI, there is a risk that consumer information can leak into the hands of unscrupulous parties, that hackers can use the smart metering system to destabilize the grid, or that consumers themselves can find a way to systematically cheat the utility company. To safeguard the system and ensure its security for the 20 year life of the metering assets, the system needs to be designed with strong end-to-end security in mind.

Certicom Advanced Metering Infrastructure solution (AMI) was designed to meet stringent security requirements. A highly scalable turnkey security platform, it secures communications between utility meters and utility companies’ back-end meter data management infrastructure by providing data encryption and integrity validation of individual metering data as well as strong authentication of metering commands. The high performance AMI security solution can supports millions of meters, multiple reads/hour and runs on low-power Micro-controller Units (MCUs).

Certicom AMI Solution Offers Unmatched Security and Performance 

Certicom encrypts communication between individual meters and the meter data collection engines with 128-bit AES ciphers, preventing eavesdropping of potentially sensitive customer or metering system information. Using high-performance data encryption servers, sensitive data is never in the clear. Data integrity is protected to prevent replay or man-in-the-middle attacks which could target specific homes or spread throughout the smart grid network. 

With millions of meters potentially deployed, managing each meter key is no small task either. Certicom provides a high-performance, hardened appliance to decrypt meter data on the fly, allowing utilities to maintain a strong security posture without drastically modifying their meter data management systems. 

System command and control information, such as remote disconnect commands or pricing signals, is digitally signed using the strong, efficient Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA). This ensures that only authorized commands from the management system can be authenticated and responded to. System control keys are protected in tamper-proof hardware to keep even inside attackers from gaining access.

Certicom AMI solution consists of three key elements:

  • Certicom AMI Network Security Solution
    Certicom AMI 7000 series is an encryption and key management platform that protects the authenticity, integrity and confidentiality of AMI network data with NIST approved algorithms that are both robust and efficient. System design encompasses not only the algorithms and protocols, but also operational integrity and key handling facilities. The AMI 7000 series of appliances is part of Certicom AMI security solution.
  • Certicom Security Builder AMI Agent
    Certicom Security Builder AMI agent provides the cryptographic primitives required to create a trusted platform for micro-controller devices. This enables wireless networks of devices that can be uniquely identified and allows data to be securely sent to and retrieved from all devices. In addition to symmetric encryption, Security Builder MCE allows customers to integrate key exchange and digital signatures based on elliptic curve cryptography (ECC), the only public-key scheme capable of meeting the footprint and power limitations of these constrained devices. Certicom AMI agent is customized for optimized performance.
  • Certicom ZigBee Smart Energy Libraries
    Securely managing a network of smart metering devices is more complex than it first appears, and strong and efficient security is necessary to assure utility companies, meter manufactures and end customers that only trusted devices have access to the utility Home Area Network. Certicom ZigBee Smart Energy security libraries implement the Smart Energy Security Profile with a robust digital signature scheme and key agreement protocol based on Implicit Certificates and ECMQV, a highly-secure and bandwidth efficient one-pass key agreement scheme. These unique Certicom technologies allows authenticated key agreement in resource constrained environments such as low-cost 8-bit micro-controllers.

Secure ROI for the Utility industry and Energy consumer 
Certicom AMI solutions can secure smart grid assets for the life of the system, creating a smart grid that is able to dynamically adjust to system demands, isolate circuit faults, predict component failures, and route power efficiently from a growing number of more energy efficient generation resources. By securing the pipeline between the meter and head-end using Certicom AMI, the integrity of metering data is protected; system commands are authenticated, confidentiality is protected through encryption of metering data, and non-repudiation by system acknowledgments. 

True Asset Protection

Using Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) based Implicit Certificates bring stronger security to the resource-constrained ZigBee environments. Requiring all devices to be authenticated with digital certificates allows metering companies to take advantage of mass-produced ZigBee Smart Energy devices with built-in strong cryptographic identities.

Exciting New Revenue Opportunities
Customers that select Certicom AMI platform will gain enhanced communications capability and distributed intelligence in electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure. Certicom is a vendor of choice due to the combination of expertise in secure distributed communications systems along with available, commercially proven components vital to swift projects delivery. Certicom AMI solution can enables new and existing businesses in the utility industry to provide, demand response and smart metering solutions, products and services in a secure fashion.

The benefits of the Certicom Advanced Metering Infrastructure solution are clearly demonstrable. Isn’t it time that you explored the many ways Certicom AMI solution can start saving you money and growing your revenue line? Contact us at today!