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Bio-inspired cyber security for the smart grid

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1 Author(s)
McKinnon, A.D. ; Pacific Northwest Nat. Lab., Richland, WA, USA

Smart grid technologies are dramatically transforming the grid's traditional unidirectional power flow into a grid with bi-directional flows of both power and information. The addition of many millions of smart meters and smart appliances will add significant complexity to today's grid. Additionally, these smart meters and smart appliances are relatively new classes of devices and therefore as yet unproven in the field, especially with respect to their long-term cyber security attributes. Both of these issues, scaleability and relatively unknown device behaviors, will impair the effectiveness of traditional cyber security techniques. Therefore, a new bio-inspired approach to cyber security is proposed. The study of social insects, such as ants and bees, has shown that complex-adaptive systems can emerge from the collective application of simple, light-weight behaviors. The Digital Ants framework is a bio-inspired framework that uses mobile light-weight agents to monitor the smart grid. Sensors within the framework communicate with each other via digital pheromones thereby alerting each other to possible cyber security issues. Communication and coordination is all localized and decentralized thereby allowing the framework to scale across the large numbers of devices. The light-weight nature of the sensors also allows the framework to be implemented on devices with limited computational resources. Digital Ants research will enable a new bio-inspired cyber security approach for securing the smart grid.

Published in:

Innovative Smart Grid Technologies (ISGT), 2012 IEEE PES

Date of Conference:

16-20 Jan. 2012