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Toward a Secure Electrical Grid

By The Curret

July 25, 2018

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University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) researchers have proposed a new method for protecting the electrical grid from a cyberattack.

The grid's ever-increasing complexity requires sensors monitoring a range of factors. These precise, high-resolution measurements require phase measurement units (PMUs)—devices that are aligned with the atomic clocks used in global positioning systems (GPS). However, PMUs are extremely vulnerable to GPS spoofing attacks, leading to the possibility that someone will hack the system and cause a catastrophic failure.

As a result, said UCSB's Joao Hespanha, “What you need is a control system that can process the information to make good decisions. The system has to keep hypothesizing that what it is reading is not real.”

Such a system could resist an attack and remain effective even if as many as a third of all sensor nodes were compromised, he said.

"This is an enabling technology that will be needed to make a lot of this control come online. And it will be needed soon, because the system gets more complex all the time and is therefore more susceptible to attack.”

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