Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) Security of the Smart Grid

Modern electric power grid is a complex cyber-physical critical infrastructure that forms the lifeline of modern society, and its reliable and secure operation is of paramount importance to national security and economic well-being. The electric power grid, as of today, is a highly automated network, wherein a variety of sensors, control logics, computing systems, and communication networks are interconnected to the physical grid for ensuring reliable, safe, and efficient operations of the grid. In recent years, several authoritative sources have acknowledged the rapidly evolving nature of cyber threats to the power grid, and the urgent need to protect the grid against them.


"Transform the Fault-Resilient Grid of today into a Secure and Attack-Resilient Grid of the Future"

Our research focus:

Our research articulates a holistic cyber security framework encompassing attack deterrence, prevention, detection, mitigation, resilience, and attribution. In particular, it focuses on the development of cyber-physical system algorithms, techniques, and tools for cyber risk modeling, risk mitigation, and attack-resilient monitoring, protection, and control that account for dynamics of the physical system as well as the operational aspects of the cyber and control network. Our focus is also on the development of a realistic CPS Security Testbed and experimental evaluation/validation of the cyber security solutions bridging the gap between academic research and industry practice.

Research Objectives & Highlights:

  1. Vulnerability Analysis: Systematic evaluation of cyber vulnerabilities in the substation, SCADA, and control center of the power grid.

  2. Impact Analysis: Quantifying the impact  cyber attacks on the operational security and stability of the power grid.

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

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

  5. Tesbed & Experimentation: An integrated CPS security testbed, called PowerCyber, that interfaces industry-grade SCADA with real-time power system simulator (RTDS), with industrial 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 evaluations and cyber security training. PowerCyber Testbed Flier


Our Research Projects (recent ones) funded U.S. NSF, DOE, DHS grants.

Award Number: NSF EECS 1202542  

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

Award Number: NSF & DHS CNS 1446831

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

Award Number: DOE CEDS Program.
Project  Project Title: Autonomous Tools for Attack Surface Reduction Project Poster (2016)

Award Number: NSF CNS 1329915  Project Title: CPS: Synergy: Collaborative Research: A Unified System Theoretic Framework for Cyber Attack-Resilient Power Grid

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

Industry Outreach and Community Engagement Projects:

SmartAmerica Challenge 2014  - 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 2015

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

NERC GridSecCon 2015 & 2016 -- Cyber Security Hands-on Training

CyDECS: Cyber Attack-Defense Training Exercise for Power Grid