TIGR Project: Technology for Restoring Power to a Grid Under Cyberattack

Researchers from SRI International are leading a collaborative team to develop cutting-edge technology that can be used by utilities and cyber first responders to restore power to an electric grid that has come under a cyberattack.

The Threat Intelligence for Grid Recovery (TIGR) project aims to provide new tools that enable power engineers to restore and protect electrical service within seven days of an attack that overwhelms the recovery capabilities of utilities and subsystems.

Funded by a $7.3 million award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation and Characterization Systems (RADICS) program, SRI International leads a team of expert organizations that includes Con Edison, Dartmouth College, New York University (NYU), Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), and Narf Industries.

Together, the team will develop threat analysis and characterization technology for localizing and containing malware – malicious software such as a computer virus – that has breached industrial control systems (ICS) power grid equipment and networks.

Currently, utility companies in North America have procedures and capacity to handle localized power outages caused by events such as extreme weather and high usage on hot days. However, there aren’t any tools available to resolve the type of widespread outages that can be caused using malware.

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The goal of the TIGR project is to develop tools that can be rapidly deployed after an attack has occurred. The tools will support resilient power recovery within three days and full restoration after seven days.

Today’s generators have limited ability to supply power beyond seven days, making this timeframe critical for ensuring minimal disruption to the civilian power infrastructure.

“Reacting to a power crisis caused by a cyberattack requires a rapid, reliable and resilient response that presents complex challenges,” said Michael Locasto, Ph.D., senior computer scientist at SRI International and principal investigator for the project.

“Our team’s combined expertise makes us uniquely qualified to develop tools that support rapid and trustworthy power restoration. Through the combination of domain experience, agility, and research expertise, the team’s goal is to provide tools that significantly strengthen power grid resilience over the next decade.”

(Learn More. SRI International is a nonprofit, independent research center serving government and industry. We work on some of the world’s most important problems, collaborating across technical disciplines to spark new ideas and solutions. Our research and innovations have led to new industries and products that impact people’s lives every day—from the computer mouse and interactive computing to medical ultrasound, cancer drugs, and much more.

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