smart inverters' vulnerability to cyberattacks needs to be identified and countered, according to researchers
Credit: mobius, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The emergence of distributed energy resources (DERs)—facilities owned by individuals or small companies that can generate, store and return power to energy grids—is transforming the way power is used across the world.

The technology is becoming more prevalent as society looks for alternative sources of energy, but its rapid growth brings with it a new field of vulnerabilities open to cyberattacks.

DERs like home-based solar panels or electric vehicle chargers rely on field devices known as smart inverters to interface with power grids. As a new study by Concordia researchers shows, these devices’ reliance on digital information and communication technology can be attacked in multiple ways by malicious actors, with serious repercussions for the public.

The paper, published in IEEE: Transactions on Power Electronics, surveys the landscape of smart inverter cybersecurity and identifies attack strategies at the device and grid level. It also looks at ways to defend against, mitigate and prevent them.

“We are still in the first decade of trying to understand the problem and identifying the most prominent risks,” says the paper’s co-author Jun Yan, associate professor at the Concordia Institute for Information Systems Engineering.

“Threats are inevitable. We have so many homeowners and third parties using these devices that having a perfect line of defense is impossible. We must look at our strategic priorities to start.”

Yuanling Li, a Concordia Ph.D. student and research intern at Ericsson’s Global Artificial Intelligence Accelerator (GAIA), is the paper’s lead author.

Risks at the device and grid levels

The researchers describe how attacks on smart inverters can take multiple forms, from threats to individual devices to the entire grid. Attacks on devices can disrupt communications between the device and the utility regulating energy flow or with other devices, but attacks on hardware are also possible.

They identify reconnaissance, replay, DDoS and Man-in-the-Middle as possible attack strategies on communications links between the inverters and devices. Tactics such as physical firmware attacks and hall spoofing, which involves the manipulation of electromagnetic fields around a device, target hardware.

At the microgrid level, the researchers note the possibility of cyberattacks on centralized control architectures and distributed control systems. Many of these attacks are designed to inject false data into the communications stream between the device and the regulator or block commands from the control to the devices.

These can lead to oscillations of power, voltage and frequency, and severely impede the microgrid’s ability to distribute energy.

Part of a global network

The research was carried out as part of the Mitacs-Ericsson GAIA multi-institutional research initiative that links a network of researchers in Canada, the United States, India and Europe. As one of 25 Concordia graduate students participating in the initiative, Li has been researching further into ethical hacking techniques to identify vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure.

“We use AI technologies in penetration testing of cyber-physical smart grids,” he says. “The goal is to use deep reinforcement learning to find efficient and automatic ways to penetrate smart grids and create a negative physical impact.”

As a leading member of the National Cybersecurity Consortium, Yan points out that Concordia is uniquely qualified to lead the fight against this emerging threat.

“This paper will provide us with a good starting point for our many research projects. For the broader research community, this lays out the solutions that exist and where are the gaps that still require one,” he says.

“It can also help the industry review their practices and improve their baseline security.” More information: Li Yuanliang et al, Cybersecurity of Smart Inverters in the Smart Grid: A Survey, IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics (2022). DOI: 10.1109/TPEL.2022.3206239 Provided by Concordia University Citation: Smart inverters’ vulnerability to cyberattacks needs to be identified and countered, according to researchers (2022, November 29) retrieved 29 November 2022 from https://techxplore.com/news/2022-11-smart-inverters-vulnerability-cyberattacks-countered.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

TECH NEWS RELATED

M2 Pro and M2 Max benchmark results show a 30% faster GPU

Geekbench scores already showed how faster the M2 Pro processor is compared to the M1 Max chip in CPU performance. Now, new tests spotted by MacRumors highlight the graphic performance of the M2 Pro and M2 Max are about 30% faster than their predecessors. These tests align with what ...

View more: M2 Pro and M2 Max benchmark results show a 30% faster GPU

TikTok EU ban on the table if social network doesn’t comply with new laws

TikTok is one of the most popular social networks out there. But TikTok is also a cause of concern for western governments that worry about the company’s ties to the Chinese government. TikTok can’t run on most devices the US government issues, and there has been talk of a ...

View more: TikTok EU ban on the table if social network doesn’t comply with new laws

Don’t Buy a Foldable Until Samsung Brings This Prototype to Life

Samsung Display via The Verge The world of foldable phones is surprisingly stagnant. The Galaxy Z Fold gets a tiny little upgrade every year, and rival phone brands loosely copy Samsung’s homework. But a new Samsung Display prototype called the “Flex In & Out” could turn this narrative on ...

View more: Don’t Buy a Foldable Until Samsung Brings This Prototype to Life

Best free sports streaming apps in 2023

Cutting the cord on cable television is something tons of people have done over the past five years. But that hasn’t proven to be the smartest way to continue to watch sports. Whether it comes from premium sports website subscriptions to keep tabs on your favorite players, or even fantasy ...

View more: Best free sports streaming apps in 2023

Avengers 5 might have Ant-Man in it, Quantumania star teases

The first MCU Phase 5 movie will be Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the third installment in the Ant-Man franchise and a film with much higher stakes than the previous episodes. The sequel will deliver the MCU’s first Kang (Jonathan Majors) villain after we met a somewhat good He Who ...

View more: Avengers 5 might have Ant-Man in it, Quantumania star teases

Sharing a Netflix Account? Get Ready to Pay For It

DANIEL CONSTANTE/Shutterstock.com Netflix is about to get serious in its efforts to eliminate freeloaders. If you share a Netflix account with family or friends outside your household, get ready to pay for it. A new “paid sharing” system could roll out starting next month, and you’ll have to pay a ...

View more: Sharing a Netflix Account? Get Ready to Pay For It

‘7 Wonders’ Board Game Gets a New ‘Edifice’ Expansion

Asmodee and Repos Production Board game lovers have a wonderful reason to celebrate today. Board game makers Asmodee and Repos Production announced their latest collaboration: 7 Wonders Edifice, an expansion to the popular board game 7 Wonders. The game launches on February 24th for $29.99. 7 Wonders: Edifice adds ...

View more: ‘7 Wonders’ Board Game Gets a New ‘Edifice’ Expansion

T-Mobile Kicks Off 2023 With Another Data Breach

r.classen / Shutterstock.com In a press release, T-Mobile confirms that it detected a data breach in its systems on January 5th. A “bad actor” managed to steal personal information (but not financial data) from around 37 million customers. This is the eighth T-Mobile data breach since 2018. The hacker ...

View more: T-Mobile Kicks Off 2023 With Another Data Breach

Apple appeals to UK competition watchdog investigation about mobile browser dominance

Galaxy S23 Ultra release date and specs leak finally reveals everything about the new model

8 Best Smart Home Automation Apps for Android and iOS

WhatsApp for iOS rolling out the ability to create a chat with yourself

Amazon Prime Music Unlimited changes streaming prices, now matches Apple Music

Deadpool 3 and Secret Wars to feature Fox’s X-Men, according to Marvel insider

Report: OLED iPad Pro still on track for 2024 release, 2026 for MacBook Pro

How to negotiate over practically anything

HomePod 2 praised in exclusive hands-on before launch

M2 Pro MacBook Pro Amazon preorder deal gives you $50 off

What “choice” means for millions of women post-Roe

Singapore FinTech firm Pilon secures $5.2M seed funding led by Wavemaker Partners

OTHER TECH NEWS

Top Car News Car News