What Does a Meter Box Hide ?

Energy bills have been on the rise in recent years. However, they’ve increased significantly in 2022 due to the reduction in available power supplies and resources following the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Moreover, the growing demand for energy in the digital-first economy has disrupted global supply, making it difficult for providers to procure what they need without spending more than ever before.

However, the ongoing Smart Grid (SG) initiatives in Europe, the US, and other parts of the world have helped consumers manage their energy costs. However, smart meters have been under scrutiny for a peculiar reason – security and privacy.

Since these devices collect data, they’re vulnerable to Cybersecurity threats. In this post, we’ll dive deeper into smart metering and explain the types of data smart meters collect and the security risks they pose. We’ll also share how these concerns are addressed by energy suppliers in the market.

What is Smart Metering?

Smart metering is an innovative solution that enables users to track the usage of specific utilities, such as electricity, gas, etc., and get detailed information related to consumption. With accurate usage patterns and readings, consumers can adjust their consumption behaviors accordingly.

Smart meters house a powerful communication network called the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) which collects and transmits data from residential homes to the grid.

What Kind of Data Do Smart Meters Collect?

Smart meters collect mainly two types of data. The first type is personal data used to identify customers – MPAN and MPXN numbers. The second type of data collected is called inferred data which shows the consumption information.

Modern SMETS2 meters are more advanced and can identify usage patterns associated with home appliances, such as televisions, microwaves, and even EV charging. The purpose of this data is to help reveal lifestyle habits and create a sophisticated energy consumption profile encompassing more data, such as consumers’ age, employment status, medical conditions, marital status, and routines.

In Europe, the GDRP classifies smart meter data as “special category personal data.” Hence, it requires more protection since it provides various types of information malicious criminals can exploit.

Uses and Benefits of Smart Meters

The data collected by smart meters offer many use cases and benefits to both consumers and energy suppliers. For instance, they enable suppliers to capture accurate energy consumption readings and provide precise bills. Similarly, it provides more visibility to consumers related to their usage and prompts them to control their consumption and costs with better decision-making.

Overall, both parties benefit greatly from accurate data in the form of up-to-date data collection (suppliers) and reduced bills (consumers). Moreover, suppliers can also anticipate blackouts during peak hours or seasons and take proactive counter-measures to prevent downtime and overloading.

Privacy and Security Risks Associated with Smart Meters

With so many benefits on offer, smart meters rapidly becoming an indispensable aspect of energy management around the world. However, just like any connected device, they pose different privacy and security risks.

The AMI serves as a potential access point hackers can use to penetrate the meters and get access to the data flow for different malicious activities. Plus, since this data is transmitted 24/7, there’s a huge window supplier and governing bodies have to protect it. Any sort of attack can lead to severe financial and legal repercussions.

In Europe, the GDPR empowers consumers by giving them full rights to their energy consumption data. As a result, energy providers have to constantly monitor and secure the confidentiality of consumer data. Moreover, they need to inform consumers about how their data is used and where it is stored.

How Energy Suppliers Address Security and Privacy Concerns Associated with Smart Meters

1.    Data Encryption and Access Management

Data encryption is one of the most popular Cybersecurity enhancement practices in the market. This privacy-preserving technology is typically used to limit user access to information. Today, most smart meters encrypt consumer data before transmitting information to other repositories. Moreover, there’s been a rapid influx of new and advanced smart home devices that provide an additional layer of security to residential homes.

2.    Data Dashboard

Data dashboards are an emerging solution entering the market to enable consumers to manage permissions when they integrate any third-party platform with their smart meters. The dashboard will display the privacy notice and provide real-time information related to the organization’s legitimacy and privacy management.

3.    Data Aggregation

Data aggregation is a smart technique used to conceal energy consumption and personal data collected by smart meters. For instance, many energy suppliers broaden their infrastructure and collect data at the postcode level instead of per block or residence. This provides them with the information they need while still keeping individual data safe from the grid and the hands of malicious criminals.

4.    SMICoP Adherence

Most energy suppliers in Europe and other developed parts of the world must comply with the Smart Metering Installation Code of Practice. The SMICoP provides a list of obligations that prompt suppliers to maximize transparency and ensure the installation process is consensual.

5.    Smart Home Technology Enhancement

Another way to address privacy and security risks associated with smart meters is by improving smart technology security. Many smart home solution providers are actively improving their devices, websites, and other touchpoints to encrypt consumer data and employ more sophisticated privacy engineering techniques.


The energy industry is currently overwhelmed by rising bills and negative consumer sentiment. With prices set to continue rising, consumers are under more pressure than ever before. Hence, smart meters present a viable short-term and long-term solution to help both parties in different ways.

For consumers, smart metering could help offset some of their energy bills and reduce their financial burden. Similarly, smart metering will help suppliers collect more accurate readings that could help them maintain consumer confidence, loyalty, and reputation.

However, they need to address security and privacy concerns at high-level priority as security threats at this time will only add more fuel to the fire caused by rising energy costs.

Marc-Roger Gagné MAPP