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REMOTE INTERNET ACCESS TO METERS ON NETWORKS PROTECTED BY FIREWALLS

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000130578D
Publication Date: 2005-Oct-27
Document File: 4 page(s) / 41K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

The ubiquity of the corporate LAN connected to the Internet makes it an excellent candidate for providing inexpensive access to real-time meter data and configurations from remote locations. A central problem in providing external access to meters connected to private networks, such as corporate LANs, is the additional security risk from allowing external network connections to the meters. Corporations almost universally have deployed firewalls and other defenses to keep attackers from gaining access to LAN-connected devices, such as personal computers, personal digital assistants, etc.

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REMOTE INTERNET ACCESS TO METERS ON NETWORKS PROTECTED BY FIREWALLS

Description:

Background

The ubiquity of the corporate LAN connected to the Internet makes it an excellent candidate for providing inexpensive access to real-time meter data and configurations from remote locations. A central problem in providing external access to meters connected to private networks, such as corporate LANs, is the additional security risk from allowing external network connections to the meters. Corporations almost universally have deployed firewalls and other defenses to keep attackers from gaining access to LAN-connected devices, such as personal computers, personal digital assistants, etc.

Energy usage and power quality data may be used for billing purposes, energy management, and power trading negotiations. For example, a corporation may deploy meters throughout its facilities to control and monitor energy usage. Furthermore, that corporation may outsource the energy monitoring, and perhaps energy supplier negotiations in deregulated market, to a third party. Real-time access to meter data and configurations will provide substantial opportunities for innovation in energy markets.

Description

The sections that follow describe various techniques for providing remote access to one or more meters that are connected to private networks, such as corporate LANs, that are connected to the Internet. The meters mentioned below may be gas or water in addition to electricity meters.

Web relay meter proxy for meter access

Most corporate LAN firewall configurations allow connections to remote servers to be initiated from inside the firewall. Furthermore, firewall configurations that allow connections to the outside almost universally allow web (HTTP) connections. The following uses a generally accessible web server, such as the corporation’s own public web server, to relay information to a user located anywhere on the Internet.

1.                  The meter is a web client, much like a web browser, and is on a network, most likely behind a firewall.

2.                  There is a generally accessible web server on the Internet.

3.                  The meter requests a URL from the web server; the URL includes information uniquely identifying the meter or the meter sends a cookie that identifies it.

4.                 The web server returns to the meter a “web page” that has instructions for the meter including:

q       what time to next contact the web server

q       ANSI C12 commands (e.g., read ST-23 and ST-25)

5.                  Each web page could contain multiple commands.

6.                  The meter then returns results by using an HTTP PUT request.

7.                  All communication between the meter and the web server could be in XML or some other suitable encoding.

8.                  All communication between the meter and the web server could be encrypted, perhaps using SSL or TLS. Alternatively, the communication could be digitally signed plain text messages.

9.                  Users wishing to read or control the meter make requests to the generally accessible web server, possibly throu...