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Electric power grid cyber attack

Simulating cyber-attacks on the electric power grid using NetSim Emulator

The electric power grid (EPG) or smart grid is a critical infrastructure at high risk of cyber-attacks, such as False Data Injection attacks, Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks on a critical asset, Malicious Intrusions etc. To secure the smart grid, we must integrate cyber security with power system security through cyber-physical security (CPS).

Cyber physical test bed

A cyber-physical test bed can be set up by integrating power system simulators, controllers, energy management tools and NetSim. In the test bed, NetSim would emulate the communications network.

How smart grids are controlled?

In an EPG or smart grid, phasor measurement unit (PMU) is a device that measures the electrical characteristics of the grid and then communicates them back to a phasor data concentrator (PDC) and ultimately to T-SCADA systems or the Control Center.

PMUs are often called Synchrophasor because modern PMUs synchronize multiple phasor measurements from different points on the grid to a common time source (typically using IRIG-B, a GPS-based time synchronization protocol). A synchronized PMU or Synchrophasor is able to accurately measure the quality of the grid, both in terms of voltage and in terms of current, at any given time across all measurement points.

Smart Grid

Fig: A testbed comprising of two sub stations connected to the control center via NetSim. Each sub station comprises of 1 PDU, 1 PMU and a database. The control centre has a PDC/PMU receiver that connect to the Human Machine interface (HMI). NetSim provides network connectivity. Various network parameters like bandwidth, latency, error can be set and actual performance of the EPG can be observed. Further, attach on the network can be simulated in NetSim and its impact on the EPG can be analysed.

What is the use of NetSim?

The communication between PMU and PDC to Control Centre is via a network. Synchrophasor measurements data is exchanged over the network.

NetSim can used to:

  • Vary network parameters such as bandwidth, latency, packet error
  • Simulate network attacks

The following attacks can be simulated:

  • Adding delay and loss in the Network
  • DDOS Attacks
  • False Data Injection attack

NetSim can also be used to develop algorithms as counter measures against these attacks.

Machine learning is increasingly used to train algorithms to detect and mitigate such attacks. NetSim interfaces with Python and frameworks such as keras or tensor flow can be linked to NetSim for training/testing DNNs, GANs etc.

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