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An efficient dependable smart power grid relies on the secure real-time data collection and transmission service provided by a monitoring system. In such a system, the measuring units, such as phasor measurement units (PMUs) and smart meters (SMs), are critical. These measuring equipments function as sensors in the smart grid. Data exchanges between these sensors and the central controller are protected by various security protocols. These protocols usually contain computationally intensive cryptographic algorithms that cause heavy energy overhead to the sensor nodes. Since PMUs and SMs are mostly energy-constrained, the problem of how to ensure the secure communication with minimum energy cost becomes a critical issue for the functionality of the whole smart grid. In this article, we focus on the low power secure communication of the PMUs and SMs. We take two wireless sensor platforms as examples to experimentally investigate the approaches and principles of reconciling the two conflicting system requirements-communication security and low energy consumptions. The proposed methods are general ones and applicable to other energy-constrained yet security sensitive systems.
Date of Publication: May 2012