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Combining Network Modeling, Simulations, and Analysis for a Groundbreaking Cybersecurity Project

  • Written by John Dirkman
  • May 17, 2021

Working to Protect Our Energy Infrastructure

Nexant (now part of Resource Innovations) was recently in the news as part of a consortium of government agencies, universities, organizations, and industries that won a $6 million R&D grant from the US-Israel Energy Center related to cybersecurity in energy infrastructure. The international consortium, led by Arizona State University and Ben-Gurion University, proposed a project entitled “Comprehensive Cybersecurity Technology for Critical Power Infrastructure AI-Based Centralized Defense and Edge Resilience”. Various partners are involved from the United States: Arizona Public Service - APS, Duquesne Light Company, Nexant, Georgia Tech Research Institute, Delek US Holdings, Inc., Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL), The MITRE Corporation and Israel: Arava Power Company, OTORIO, RAD Data Communications Limited, SIGA OT Solutions.

The overall project focuses on key components including architecture and processes, threat knowledge base, and AI-based learning, detection, and control resilience and robustness, all with an emphasis on adapting to future threats in an ever-changing security and threat landscape.

This essential work is motivated by recent attacks on various utilities around the world, emphasizing the need to better harden these critical infrastructures against cyberattacks. The outcome will benefit the security of the energy sector and the population worldwide. 

Bringing State Estimation, Modeling, and Analytics to the Team

This project includes leveraging Nexant's decades of experience with state estimation, which effectively analyzes and filters large volumes of rapidly changing data for anomalies. This is combined with our overall expertise in grid architecture, analytics, and operations.

Applied to cybersecurity, the project goal is to enable continued grid operations during cyberattacks. How can we—via adaptive AI and ML—compensate for the bad data that could be injected, and can we capture it without impacting operations? Essentially, our project is about maintaining a reliable power supply under cyberattack.

As part of the project, we’ll help build datasets to simulate attacks and responses to the attacks. This will involve looking at prediction data, detecting anomalies, control and validation protocols, and many other types of data analytics. Then, we will take what we’ve learned to design a product that will accomplish these goals, but at scale. We will work with the product team to package the code as firmware, software, and/or hardware for various energy markets that can easily be connected to existing data monitoring and control systems.

We are proud to be working with a brilliant team of experts, joining forces on this very important and pressing initiative to develop state-of-the-art cybersecurity solutions for utility companies worldwide. We also ask for your help in building out the threat library as comprehensively as possible—more will follow on this.

If you like, you can learn more about this project by reading the press release or visiting the US-Israel Energy Center website.

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