Cyber Security for Smart Grid Devices

Presented By:
Dr. Annarita Giani, University of California, Berkeley
Date and Location:
Friday, February 4, 2011 - 1:00pm
NCSA Auditorium | Webcast
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A wide area measurement system (WAMS) consists of advanced measurement technology, information tools, and operational infrastructure. Synchro-phasors or Phase Measurement Units (PMUs) are a technology that offers absolute time-stamped voltage phase measurements and even more detailed voltage profiles at buses in the electricity grid. Only 200 PMUs are already installed in North America. In 2009, the U.S. government announced an investment of $3.4 B in energy grid modernization, which includes the installation of more than 850 PMUs that will monitor the complete U.S. electric grid.

Static-state estimation is a well-known and widely used technique for determining optimal estimates of phase angles from noisy real power P, reactive power Q, and voltage magnitude V measurements at generator and large substation buses. This technique permits monitoring of the relative phase angles between adjacent generators. Large changes in phase angle between two generators is an early indicator of transient stability problems. Phasor Measurement Units sense the relative phase angle between generators directly and transmit them to a data aggregator. It is crucial to identify any attacks that change PMU measurements, since PMU data are used directly and critically for monitoring the power system.

In this talk, I will begin with a brief survey of cyber security for physical systems. I will review WAMS systems and applications. Then, I will present some preliminary research ideas on how to detect integrity attacks on the devices. These attack detection algorithms are based on checking for consistency of the (possibly) corrupted data against the underlying physical models that constrain the phase measurements. The consistency checks are based on static state estimation. I will offer some synthetic simulation results, and close with a discussion of computational and implementation issues that require further exploration.


Annarita Giani received her Laurea (Master’s degree) in Mathematics from the Università di Pisa, Italy. Thereafter, she worked as a researcher for the Instituto di Informatica e Telematica del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche in Pisa. In 2001, she moved to the United States to commence a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering at Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering in Hanover, New Hampshire, under the guidance of Professor George Cybenko. While at Dartmouth, she participated in the Process Query System (PQS) project sponsored by the Advanced Research and Development Activity (ARDA). Her dissertation addressed issues relating to computer security, anomaly tracking, and cognitive attacks. She received her doctoral degree in 2007.

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.