Cyber-Physical Systems Security of Power Grid: Risk Modeling and Mitigation

Presented By:
Prof. Manimaran Govindarasu, Iowa State University
Date and Location:
Friday, September 10, 2010 - 1:00pm
NCSA Auditorium | Webcast
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  • Slide archives are not available for this presentation.


Critical infrastructures are complex physical and cyber-based systems that form the lifeline of modern society, and their reliable, secure, and safe operations are of paramount importance to national security and economic vitality. The electric power grid, one of the key critical infrastructures, is a highly automated network that uses a variety of sensors, information/control systems, and communication networks (collectively known as SCADA, EMS, DMS) for the purpose of sensing, monitoring, and controlling the physical 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 today and in the emerging smart grid.

This talk will provide a brief taxonomy of potential cyber attacks on the power grid, and present a cyber-physical systems framework for risk modeling and mitigation of cyber attacks on the power grid that accounts for dynamics of the physical system, as well as the operational aspects of the cyber-based control system. In particular, the talk will focus on risk modeling of intrusion-based attacks on the substation automation system and data integrity attacks on the wide-area control network. The core of the modeling lies in the integration of cyber attack/defense modeling with physical system simulation capabilities, which makes it possible to quantify the potential consequences of a cyber attack on the power grid in terms of load loss, stability violations, equipment damage, or economic loss. Finally, the talk will conclude with discussing the experience in building a SCADA cyber security testbed and its operational capabilities.


Dr. Manimaran Govindarasu is currently an Associate Professor and Director for Student Professional Development in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State University; he also is affiliated to industry-funded Electric Power Research Center (EPRC) and NSF-funded Information Assurance Center (IAC) at Iowa State.  He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India, in 1998 and joined Iowa State in 1999. At Iowa State, he received the Young Engineering Research Faculty Award in 2003 and the Outstanding Engineering Faculty Award in 2009. His research expertise is in the areas of real-time systems, cyber security, and cyber security of power grid. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed research papers of which 50 are in archival journals. He is co-author of the text “Resource Management in Real-Time Systems and Networks,” MIT Press, 2001. He has given tutorials in reputed conferences and delivered industry short courses on the subject of cyber security. He has served in leadership roles in many IEEE conferences, symposiums, and workshops. He contributed to the DoE NASPInet Specification project, and is currently chairing the Cyber Security Task Force at IEEE Power and Energy Systems CAMS Subcommittee.

Seminar Status:
About the TCIPG Seminar Series:

The seminar series is presented by the Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid (TCIPG) Project, an $18 million multi-university research effort whose partner institutions include the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Arizona State University, Dartmouth, and Washington State University. The TCIPG Project, a successor to the earlier NSF-funded TCIP Center, was founded in 2009 with support from the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It is housed in the Information Trust Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.