Usable Management Tools for the Smarter Grid's Data Avalanche

Activity Leads: 
Research Summary: 

The present and future smart grid has a vast population of diverse devices that generate large amounts of data. The variety, large volume, and spontaneous generation of data result in what one of our industry partners has called a “data avalanche.” Data avalanches of the future will likely be very large if the number of devices on the smarter grid is larger than the number of devices on the Internet. This activity focused on the following question: How can humans deal with the smart grid “data avalanche” and thereby gain increased situational awareness for the smarter grid? More specifically, how can we enable a more reliable, consistent, affordable audit driven by the flood of data used to configure devices on power control networks? In this research, we studied new approaches to efficient management and auditing of devices on control networks. We observed that security policies are in many different languages, and that most policies and associated security artifacts are structured text; unfortunately, many language-specific structures are not recognized by traditional tools. We created eXtended Unix text-processing tools (XUTools) that can process high-level language constructs. We demonstrated the ability to inventory, measure similarity, and see the usage of high-level language constructs in a router configuration file. Since the constructs have names that persist across multiple versions of a configuration file, we can use these construct types as units of analysis to directly quantify network evolution.­

Research Demo:

XUTools: Demo of XUTools, usable management tools for the smart grid's data avalanche.
Presented by Gabriel Weaver during the TCIPG Industry Workshop October 2012.

TCIPG Seminar Series - Jan 4, 2013
Invited Presentation by Gabriel Weaver:

How Extended Unix Tools Can Measure the Changing Security Posture of Power-Control Networks