The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) has been awarded a $1.7 million (€1.2 million) contract by the United States Department of Energy (DoE) in order to come up with the technology necessary to detect cyberattacks aimed at utility companies.
Georgia Tech’s Strategic Energy Institute, the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering’s National Electric Energy Testing, Research and Applications Center (NEETRAC), and experts in smart grid technology will work together on developing the protocols and tools needed to detect attacks against critical infrastructure systems
“Utilities and energy delivery systems are unique in several ways. They provide distribution over a large geographic area and are composed of disparate components which must work together as the system’s operating state evolves,” GTRI researcher Seth Walters noted.
“Relevant security technologies need to work within the bandwidth limitations of these systems in order to see broad adoption and they need to account for the varying security profiles of the components within these power systems.”
The tools that experts will develop include advanced modeling and simulation technologies and a network of advanced sensors that’s capable of taking action to protect the targeted infrastructure in real time. The system will focus on analyzing the content of the attack traffic instead of the source of the attack.
Georgia Tech has already conducted comprehensive research on electric power utilities and their infrastructure.
The first phase of the project consists of research and development activities. Next, there will be a testing and validation process at Georgia Tech. In the final phase, the technology will be put to the test at operational facilities.
In order to simulate various types of cyberattacks and their effects, a cyber-power co-simulator will be integrated.
“The proposed cybersecurity system is complex, so a disciplined approach to delivering a system of systems which embodies this complexity will be required,” Walters added.
“Furthermore, as part of research and development, we will be working to ensure that the tool suite, as conceptualized by the team, remains relevant to current and emerging industry needs.”