More data protection for the smart meter

Computer scientists are developing a system to better protect users' privacy

Intelligent electricity meters pass on their data directly to the electricity supplier © EVB Energie AG / CC-by-sa 3.0
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Intelligent, but with data protection: Smart meters have so far revealed a lot to end users. A German computer scientist has now developed a system to protect privacy better despite the smart meter. It could easily be integrated into existing system.

Intelligent electricity meters transmit - for example via the Internet - data on the current power consumption. Thus, the electricity provider learns in a timely manner, when electricity is needed to what extent and can adapt its production to the needs. As a source of information within the Smart Grid, the smart meters have great benefits in terms of security of supply and energy efficiency.

Unwanted insights into privacy

But the system also has a downside: the regular reading also gives insights into everyday life within the household and conclusions on private information. "In order for smart metering to be used safely as a tool for the realization of the smart grid, the protection of privacy is indispensable, " emphasizes the computer scientist Sören Finster of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Above all, this includes protection against unauthorized access to measurement data.

"When my power consumption tells me that I do not have air conditioning and I get advertisements for these appliances, it does not harm me, but I find it unpleasant because I feel myself being watched, " says the scientist. However, it can not be ruled out that third parties may experience unauthorized access to the collected data, at which time certain residents are out of the office or when which devices are running.

Bundled data against spying

Finster has examined how the data can be transferred and used in a meaningful way, without allowing private habits to be deduced. The computer scientist designed specially designed communication protocols that make it possible to disguise the data before sending it, by summarizing the measured values ​​across several households and moving them in the number space. Randomly generated masking data that does not contain information about the reading is used to camouflage the readings. display

"Using these pre-processed measured values, the data can be transferred in a privacy-appropriate way", says Finster. The receiver can no longer match the original readings, but the sum of the transmitted values ​​is the sum of these readings. "They provide valuable information about the current consumption situation, but no longer pose a threat to the privacy of individual households, " emphasizes the scientist.

Easy to integrate into existing systems

The idea of ​​this peer-to-peer privacy protection, which bundles the data of several households without additional infrastructure, can be put to real use with little effort. After all, the processes used place only small demands on the computing power of the smart meters and thus enable low power consumption and low production costs.

Electricity retailers and smart meter manufacturers are already interested in the software solution, according to the KIT scientist, in order to be prepared for their customers' needs for a private-smart smart See metering. For the year 2020, 800 million installed intelligent electricity meters are expected, says Finster.

(Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 22.10.2014 - NPO)