“Privacy Preserving Protocols for Smart Meters and Electric Vehicles”

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André Jesus (advised by Nuno Ferreira Neves)

Master’s thesis, Mestrado em Segurança Informática, Departamento de Informática, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Sept. 2015

Abstract: There is currently a trend to add more intelligence to various points of the electric grid, thus enabling a bidirectional communication path between the electrical utility company and our homes, by upgrading the existing components along the way. For example, the metering devices in our homes will be gradually replaced with a more capable equipment, called smart meter. Smart meters can collect information about energy spending in real-time, and forward this data to the utility. Moreover, they can receive information from the utility (or other operators) and act on it, for instance, by interacting with local equipments (e.g., air conditioner or refrigerator) to adjust their operation mode (e.g., make them decrease the energy use). Smart meters can also support local energy production (e.g., solar panels or windmills) and storage (e.g., batteries), by coordinating its operation with the utility companies. As expected, this sort of setting is prone to many forms of attack, ranging from eavesdropping on the communications to the physical tampering of the smart meters. Therefore, it is necessary to develop secure protocols that can be used to protect the devices and applications that will be operating in this future smart grid. In particular, in this project we study and evaluate a solution that protects the communications between the smart meter and the electrical company with respect to attacks on privacy. For instance, it addresses a form of attack where the adversary learns information about what a person is doing at home by monitoring the messages transmitted by the smart meter in real-time. In recent years there have been rapid developments in Wireless Power Transfer technology (WPT). There are currently some prototypes in operation, such as charging batteries in electric buses at a university in South Korea. In the event of a widespread use of this technology, it is required that new forms of accounting and payment of energy are established. This project proposes a protocol for the payment of energy transfer that ensures the anonymity of the vehicle, precluding attacks that attempt to determine where it circulates. The protocol also handles transmission inefficiencies, ensuring a fast, simple and adequate application in cars moving at normal speeds of movement.

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Project(s): Project:SEGRID

Research line(s): Fault and Intrusion Tolerance in Open Distributed Systems (FIT)

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