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Monday, June 6, 2011 - 12:05pm

Southern Co. Wary Of Smart Meter Cyber Attacks

Southern Company officials want to protect new "smart meters" from possible cyber attacks.

The meters save the company money by allowing utilities like Georgia Power to measure electricity use remotely.

But the technology could allow hackers to steal customer bank information and trigger blackouts.

Company spokesman Steve Higginbottom says customer information is safe and technicians constantly are updating the system.

"We do testing internally to make sure that the meters we're putting out there do have that encryption. We're confidant that the technology we have acquired does project against intrusion so we're very aware of the potential and do what we can to guard against it."

Higginbottom says eventually smart meters could allow customers to monitor their own energy use or shut off appliances remotely.

He says those features won't be rolled out until more extensive security tests are done.

Souther Company's Georgia Power already has installed nearly 2 million smart meters across the state.

The company's remaining customers are expected to have them by the end of 2012.

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