Cyber-Physical Systems Security of Smart Grid

The electric power grid is a highly automated network that uses a variety of sensors, information and control systems, and communication networks for the purpose of monitoring, protection and control of the grid. The recent findings, as documented in federal reports and in the literature, indicate the growing threat of cyber-based attacks in numbers and sophistication on the nation’s electric grid and other critical infrastructure systems. Therefore, cyber security of the power grid — encompassing attack prevention, detection, mitigation, and resilience — is among the most important research issues of today and in the future.

Our research focus:

Cyber-physical systems framework for risk modeling, risk mitigation, and attack-resilient control algorithms that account for dynamics of the physical system as well as the operational aspects of the cyber-based control network.


Vision: "Transform the Fault-Resilient Grid of today into an Attack-Resilient Grid of tomorrow"


Research Objectives & Highlights:

  1. Vulnerability Analysis: Systematic evaluation of cyber vulnerabilities in the SCADA and other automation systems of the power grid.

  2. Impact Analysis: Quantifying the impact of successful cyber attacks on the operation of the power grid.

  3. Risk Modeling: Quantitative methodology for evaluating the risk due to cyber attacks, including coordinated attacks.

  4. Risk Mitigation: Attack-resilient protection and control algorithms, and model-based intrusion detection algorithms to detect and mitigate cyber attacks.

  5. Tesbed & Validation: An integrated testbed, called PowerCyber, that interfaces industry-grade SCADA with real-time power system simulator (RTDS), with associated power system devices (relays, PMUs) and energy management system (EMS) software, grid communication and security technologies. The testbed provides a realistic platform to conduct cyber attack-defense studies. PowerCyber Testbed Flier

SmartAmerica Challenge - Smart Energy CPS project

Iowa State researchers to demonstrate cyber-physical security testbed for power grid at SmartAmerica Challenge expo

DEMO: Cyber attack-defense demo on the federated CPS Testbed

Global City Teams Challenge

Team CyDECS: Cyber Defense Exercises for Critical Infrastructure SecurityIowa State awarded NSF Global City Teams Challenge project



This research is funded part by the following NSF grants.

Award Number: EECS 1202542

Project Title:Collaborative Research: Resiliency against Coordinated Cyber Attacks on Power Grid

 Award Number: CNS 1329915 

Project Title: CPS: Synergy: Collaborative Research: A Unified System Theoretic Framework for Cyber Attack-Resilient Power Grid

Award Number: CNS 1446831

Project Title: CPS: Synergy: High-Fidelity, Scalable, Open-Access Cyber Security Testbed for Accelerating Smart Grid Innovations and Deployments

Award Number: CNS 1528731Project Title: GCTC EAGER: Risk Modeling and Cyber Defense Exercise for Critical Infrastructures Security