On the security economics of electricity metering

Ross Anderson, Shailendra Fuloria

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Smart grids are a hot topic, with the US administration devoting billions of dollars to modernising the electricity infrastructure. Significant action is likely in metering, where the largest and most radical change may come in the European Union. The EU is strongly encouraging its 27 Member States to replace utility meters with ‘smart meters’ by 2022. This will be a massive project: the UK, for example, looks set to replace 47m meters at a cost of perhaps £350 each. Yet it is not at all clear what it means for a meter to be secure. The utility wants to cut energy theft, so it wants the ability to disable any meter remotely; but a prudent nation state might be wary of a facility that could let an attacker turn off the lights. Again, the utility may want to monitor its customers’ consumption by the half hour, so it can price discriminate more effectively; the competition authorities may find this abhorrent. Other parts of government might find it convenient to have access to fine-grained consumption data, but might find themselves up against privacy law. There are at least half-a-dozen different stakeholders with different views on security – which can refer to information, to money, or to the supply of electricity. And it’s not even true that more security is always better: some customers may opt for an interruptible supply to save money. In short, energy metering is ripe for a security-economics analysis, and in this paper we attempt a first cut. We end up with five recommendations for the regulation of a future smart meter infrastructure.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2010
EventThe Ninth Workshop on the Economics of Information Security (WEIS 2010) - Cambridge, United States
Duration: 7 Jun 20108 Jun 2010
Conference number: 9


ConferenceThe Ninth Workshop on the Economics of Information Security (WEIS 2010)
Abbreviated titleWEIS 2010
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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