Consequences of Cyber-attacks on the Electric Power System

ECE Seminar: Consequences of Cyber-attacks on the Electric Power System

Starts at: November 13, 2014 4:30 PM

Location: Scaife Hall - Room 125

Speaker: Lalitha Sankar

Affiliation: Arizona State University

Refreshments provided: Yes



The electric power system is a complex network that is monitored and controlled by a distributed network of human-machine interfaced control systems. These cyber systems are just as vulnerable to sophisticated cyberattacks as are traditional networked information systems; however, the consequences of such attacks can be much severe for such critical infrastructure. Recent results on cyberattacks on the electric grid have demonstrated the design of unobservable attacks within the context of specific (cyber) processing units, notably state estimators. However, very little is known of the consequences of sophisticated and well-designed cyberattacks on the electric power system as a whole. Furthermore, a related open question is that of whether such attacks can be detected when the end-to-end cyber control system is taken into account. In this talk, we highlight our recent results towards addressing these questions including: (i) development of a time-progression model for cyber-functionalities in the electric power system that is essential for sophisticated and realistic attack and countermeasure design and testing; (ii) design of sophisticated unobservable attacks on state estimation with only local knowledge of the network topology; (iii) consequences of such unobservable attacks on real-time dispatch and control operations; and (iv) effect of such attacks on distributed EMSs.
Joint work with Jingwen Liang, Jiazi Zhang, Oliver Kosut, and Kory Hedman


Lalitha Sankar received the B.Tech degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, the M.S. degree from the University of Maryland, and the Ph.D degree from Rutgers University. She is presently an Assistant Professor in the ECEE department at Arizona State University. Prior to this, she was an Associate Research Scholar at Princeton University. Following her doctorate, Dr Sankar was a recipient of a three year Science and Technology Teaching Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Council on Science and Technology at Princeton University. Prior to her doctoral studies, she was a Senior Member of Technical Staff at AT&T Shannon Laboratories. Her research interests include information privacy and secrecy in distributed and cyber-physical systems, wireless communications, network information theory and its applications to model and study large data systems. For her doctoral work, she received the 2007-2008 Electrical Engineering Academic Achievement Award from Rutgers University. She received the IEEE Globecom 2011 Best Paper Award for her work on privacy of side-information in multi-user data systems. She was the recipient of the NSF CAREER award for 2014.