Electric Power Grid Indications and Warning Tool

September 2012
Topics: Critical Infrastructure Protection, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Energy-Generating Resources
David Koester, The MITRE Corporation
Dr. Michael L. Cohen, The MITRE Corporation
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The Electric Power grid makes an attractive target because it is the foundational critical infrastructure that underlies all others. A successful attack on the power grid causing a wide-area long-term outage would have significant national security, economic, and public health and safety consequences. Power grid outages could even cause additional cascading failures in other critical infrastructures due to the high dependency on electrical power. Hence, it is imperative that public and private authorities receive Indications and Warnings (I&W) when such attacks are in the early operational phases in order to mitigate their consequences. Towards that end, we have developed a prototype Electric Power I&W tool to provide near real-time I&W to alert private and public sector authorities when the likely causes of outage events are malicious activity. We have developed new business intelligence-style metrics to quantify the consequences of power system outages and we have developed techniques to identify multiple, cotemporaneous attacks. We demonstrate the ability to minimize false alarms due to severe weather. Similar techniques can be employed to minimize false alarms caused by high temperatures and wind or geomagnetic storms. For this capability to be used in the private and public sectors, a commercialized product based on this research would need be developed that would be: (1) part of a larger grid management capability or (2) part of state and metropolitan area fusion centers' capabilities where potential attacks on multiple critical infrastructure components are monitored continually.

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