Research into Smart Grid Vulnerability & Survivability Presented at IEEE Homeland Security Conference

By Chris McManes

With electricity demand straining grid capacity, deployment of a smarter grid that uses Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) for communication and control promises to enable better utilization of wind, solar and other alternative energy sources to provide strain relief. However, structural and functional vulnerabilities in Smart Grid networks can leave them vulnerable to cyber and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) attacks.

Researchers from North Carolina A&T State University have proposed a new approach to classifying the system response to these vulnerabilities in a systematic fashion, which would enable network designers to assess overall network robustness to random failures in Smart Grid operation.

Structural and Functional Vulnerability Analysis for Survivability of Smart Grid and SCADA Networks under Severe Emergencies and WMD Attacks was a featured paper at the 2013 IEEE International Conference on Technologies for Homeland Security (HST ’13), 12-14 November in Waltham, Mass., outside Boston.

“Interdependent Smart Grid and SCADA networks are more vulnerable to both random failures and WMD attacks,” paper co-author Pravin Chopade said. “Structural and functional vulnerability analysis can be used to analyze the vulnerability and survivability of interdependent infrastructures.”

Chopade discussed the approach and demonstrate experimental results of detecting vulnerabilities on a sample combined Smart Grid and SCADA network.

HST ’13 brought together global science and technology thought leaders to foster homeland security technology innovation. The Technical Program Committee reviewed 235 abstracts and accepted 137 combined papers/posters (58 percent acceptance rate). The accepted papers showcased emerging technologies in:

  •  Cyber Security
  •  Attack & Disaster Preparation, Recovery & Response
  •  Borders & Maritime Security
  •  Biometrics & Forensics

The event also featured business panels that address effective business strategies in the current homeland security market.

IEEE produces the IEEE Homeland Security Conference, with technical support from IEEE-USA, the Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate, IEEE Biometrics Council, and IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Raytheon and MITRE provided organizational support.

IEEE ( is the world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity. IEEE-USA ( advances the public good and promotes the careers and public policy interests of more than 206,000 engineers, scientists and allied professionals who are U.S. members of IEEE.

Chris McManes is IEEE-USA’s public relations manager.



Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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