Privacy Enhancing Technologies

  • looptijd: 2011 - 2013
  • locatie: Den Haag, Zuid-Holland
  • functie: Data

The Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PET) project started from an academic conference paper published in 2011 that presented an aggregation protocol designed to protect the privacy of smart meter data.

The protocol allows grid operators to obtain electricity usage data from a group of households without revealing privacy-sensitive information from a single household.

Robust privacy protection

A vital step in getting such a protocol accepted into a real system is to show that it scales well, is robust, and integrates with existing systems.

  1. First, a small-scale implementation test was carried out with Elster to test the feasibility of the PET protocol on actual smart meters.
  2. Based on the success of the small-scale implementation, ENCS, Alliander and Elster collaborated to conduct more in-depth integration and scalability tests on a set of 100 smart meters.
  3. The tests aimed to identify and resolve management, robustness, and performance issues and to minimize the effort to migrate to such a solution.
  4. ENCS also worked with Alliander to identify existing and potential use cases for smart meter data and to investigate alternative privacy approaches that are business-enabling.

Het European Network for Cyber Security (ENCS) is opgericht om de digitale veiligheid met smart grids te verbeteren.

Collaborating partners: Alliander, Elster Solutions B.V., ENCS

Subsidie: EU


Data privacy
  • The results of integration and scalability tests on 100 meters showed that the PET aggregation protocol adds no significant extra costs and easily fits within the DLMS/COSEM protocol, a widely-used, industry-standard smart meter protocol.
  • The PET protocol also supports a large majority of the existing and potential use cases.
    • For use cases not covered by the existing approach, new protocols are being developed.
    • Detailed results from the tests and the use case analysis were presented at the SEGS Workshop on November 8, 2013 in Berlin.
  • ENCS researchers are also currently working toward standardization of the PET protocol, with the aim to include it in a standard smart meter communications protocol as well as in national smart meter privacy and security requirements.

This paper in Project Documents presents integration and scalability test results from the low-overhead privacy aggregation (LoPA) protocol that was introduced by Kursawe, Danezis, and Kohlweiss.

  • The LoPA protocol adds no significant extra costs and easily fits within the DLMS/COSEM protocol, a widely-used, industry-standard smart meter protocol.
  • Scalability tests on the Elster AS300D meter show that the protocol increases the CPU usage from 30.02% to just 30.11%, the current firmware can theoretically support up to 300 meters in one group, and encryption of 16 consumption values takes ∼1 ms inside the meter.

Next step

  • Since these experiments were done over serial line communication, one next step is to perform experiments with meters communicating over GRPS or power line communication (PLC).
  • Other potential next steps are to do a field trial and explore options for including the aggregation protocol as part of a standard for smart meters.

More information

See Project Documents  below

See Project Documents  below