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Security Analysis of Cyberphysical Systems With Application to Smart Grids


I. Shames, Farhad Farokhi, T.H. Summers

IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid, submitted

Critical infrastructures, such as electricity grids, water distribution networks, and transport systems, are examples of cyber-physical systems. Among these systems, the energy/power assets are of significant importance as they underpin all facets of modern life (e.g., food, health, manufacturing, commerce and trade, etc.). These systems consist of large-scale physical processes monitored and controlled by networked control systems running over a heterogeneous set of communication networks and computers. Although the use of such powerful software systems adds flexibility and scalability, it also increases the vulnerability to hackers and other malicious entities capable of cyber attacks through the IT systems. Several such security breaches resulting in physical damage have been recently reported. In this paper, we study the scenarios where an adversarial agent’s objective is to compromise a cyberphysical system via impulsive attacks (also known as initial condition attacks). We propose an optimization framework that enables us to study the effect of impulsive attack on the outputs and states of a cyberphysical system and determine the attack strategies with the highest impact on the network. We demonstrate the applicability of the proposed analysis tools developed in this paper to both the “cyber” and the “physical” aspects of a smart grid. Initially, we investigate the case where a hacker can interfere with the optimization algorithms that are used to solve the economic dispatch problems. We particualry quantify the “ease” by which the hacker can manipulate the outcome of the algorithm depending on which part of the algorithm he/she has access to. Then, we shift our focus to the physical aspects of a smart grid and using the same set of tools study the vulnurability of a power network to sudden injection (or draining) of power. This sudden injection might be the outcome of a malevelont agent’s actions, due to a short circuit fault, or caused by a lightning strike.


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% Autogenerated BibTeX entry
@Article { ShaFar:2015:IFA_5117,
    author={I. Shames and Farhad Farokhi and T.H. Summers},
    title={{Security Analysis of Cyberphysical Systems With Application
	  to Smart Grids}},
    journal={IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid},
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