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08-12-2015

IEEE Spotlights Clarkson University Professor's Research on Cyber-Attack Risk Mitigation

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is highlighting the work of a Clarkson University professor for his leading research on cyber-attack risk mitigation.

Amir MousavianClarkson University Assistant Professor of Engineering & Management Amir Mousavian has published a paper on reducing the risk of cyber-attacks in power grid networks. The paper, "A Probabilistic Risk Mitigation Model for Cyber-Attacks to PMU Networks," appeared in volume 30, issue one of the IEEE Transactions on Power Systems.

Mousavian's research on cyber-security of electric power grids now is being featured on the IEEE Xplore Innovation Spotlight, which reports on new research published in some of the world's most highly cited journals in electrical engineering, computer science, communications, power and energy, and other technology areas. These research articles are highlighted for representing critical steps to developing the technologies of the future.

Read his IEEE Xplore article at http://ieeexplore-spotlight.ieee.org/article/an-antidote-for-the-power-grids-vulnerability-minimizing-cyber-attack-damage-via-pmu-networks/ .

Power grids use complex networks of advanced sensors such as phasor measurement units (PMUs) to collect data in real time to enhance the observability of the system. However, power grids have significant cyber vulnerabilities which could increase when PMUs are used extensively.

Mousavian is leading a research team from Clarkson University and Auburn University to increase security and control damage caused by cyber-attacks. Their model uses mixed integer linear programming to disable sensors contaminated by the attack as well as uncontaminated sensors based on the likelihood of contagion.

"We are trying to develop a model to reduce the speed or propagation pace if something malicious happens," Mousavian said.

PMUs measure voltage angle and magnitude of electricity, which are essential for optimal power flow and grid stability. The risk mitigation model developed by the researchers will disable at-risk PMUs while keeping enough PMUs connected to continue observing the network.

"PMUs are like the eyes of the system," Mousavian said. "They monitor how the system is working, and they're pretty important. If they're under cyber-attack, we can't observe the network and we don't know what's going on."

Mousavian said the U.S. is moving from traditional, classic power grid systems to smart grid systems that collect data in real time. Smart grids enable researchers to know exactly what is going on in the system almost instantly, allowing them to use the data to make better decisions and improve security.

There were only 200 PMUs in North American five years ago, but today there are more than 1,700 PMUs across the U.S. and Canada. Despite this increase, Mousavian said, a lot of conventional devices still operate on a classic power grid, so the U.S. is heavily reliant on these older systems.

In order to implement more PMUs, Mousavian said the systems must first be protected against cyber-attacks.

"We have to think of how to prevent cyber-attacks and how to mitigate them in advance before we extensively rely on PMUs," he said.

Read the full paper at http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/articleDetails.jsp?arnumber=6816087 .

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/amousavian.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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