Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

SRI leads project to tackle smart grid cyber attacks

Steve Rogerson
November 23, 2016
 
Researchers from SRI International are leading a collaborative team to develop technology that can be used by utilities and cyber first responders to restore power to an electric grid that has come under a cyber attack.
 
The Threat Intelligence for Grid Recovery (TIGR) project aims to provide tools that enable power engineers to restore and protect electrical service within seven days of an attack that overwhelms the recovery capabilities of utilities and subsystems.
 
Funded by a $7.3m award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) for the Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation & Characterisation Systems (Radics) programme, California-based SRI International is leading a team of organisations that includes Con Edison, Dartmouth College, New York University, Electric Power Research Institute and Narf Industries. Together, the team aim to develop threat analysis and characterisation technology for localising and containing malware that has breached industrial control systems power grid equipment and networks.
 
Currently, utility companies in North America have procedures and capacity to handle localised power outages caused by events such as extreme weather and high usage on hot days. However, there aren't any tools available to resolve the type of widespread outages that can be caused using malware.
 
The goal of the TIGR project is to develop tools that can be rapidly deployed after an attack has occurred. The tools will support resilient power recovery within three days and full restoration after seven days. Today's generators have limited ability to supply power beyond seven days, making this timeframe critical for ensuring minimal disruption to the civilian power infrastructure.
 
"Reacting to a power crisis caused by a cyber attack requires a rapid, reliable and resilient response that presents complex challenges," said Michael Locasto, senior computer scientist at SRI International and principal investigator for the project. "Our team's combined expertise makes us uniquely qualified to develop tools that support rapid and trustworthy power restoration. Through the combination of domain experience, agility and research expertise, the team's goal is to provide tools that significantly strengthen power grid resilience over the next decade."
 
SRI, a research centre headquartered in Menlo Park, California, works primarily in advanced technology and systems, biosciences, computing and education. It brings its innovations to market through technology licensing, spin-off ventures and new products.