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Modelling of cyber attacks for assessing smart grid security

pubblicazioni - Memoria

Modelling of cyber attacks for assessing smart grid security

The paper will start by presenting a conceptual model expressing the meaning and the links between the key concepts of cyber risks. Among them, attack modelling, mostly related to technical and architectural issues, will receive much consideration in the working group D2.31. The paper will provide insights and results related to the four step process agreed among the members:
– Firstly, the group will choose a graphical attack modelling approach. Several members have developed different modelling techniques (e.g., at EDF R&D, at KTH, at RSE), which will be compared to more classical ones (e.g., attack trees).
– Following the indications of the IEC Smart Grid Standardization Roadmap and the NIST reports, a reference architecture for smart grid applications will be presented, including the deployment of appropriate security countermeasures.
– The generic attack modelling technique will be instantiated on selected attack processes to the reference architecture and its information flows in order to validate the attack model on concrete attack cases related to the smart grid network topology.
– Finally, the connection between attack modelling and the comprehensive risk analysis framework will be addressed. The overall objective is to optimize the countermeasures configurations in the reference architecture.

Smart grid developments will enable numerous new services with new traffic patterns. These developments will change radically both network accesses and core architectures and technologies. A smart grid is likely to be topological complex, to contain vast numbers of heterogeneous endpoints, participants, interfaces, communication channels, operational modes and will require operational policies encompassing different domains requiring the know-how and expertise of IT personal. These changes could result in a significant number of vulnerabilities. This will constitute a great challenge for network planners and operators. It is highlighted in the IEC Smart Grid Standardization Roadmap [1], that cyber-security in particular will play a key role in the efficient and reliable operation of smart grids. Cyber security requirements have to be derived from risk assessments and general architectural decisions. A smart grid reference description (e.g., [2]) and security use-cases are necessary bases for such a work, which will be accomplished in a continuous cyclic approach. Focusing on a weak point of the ongoing cyber security standards [3], this paper addresses the characterisation, categorization and modelling of malicious cyber threats, which represent key steps in a risk assessment process. This theme is one of the priority topics identified by the Cigrè working group D2.31 on “Security architecture principles for digital systems in Electric Power Utilities (EPUs)” [4]. Accordingly, this paper will start by presenting in Section 1 a conceptual model expressing the meaning and the links between the key concepts of cyber security risks. Following this, the work examines attack modelling, addressing some pertinent technical and architectural issues. Section 2 explains why attack modelling is central to risk assessment after which graphical approaches to attack modelling are presented in Section 3. In the second half of the paper, the significance of attack modelling for smart grids is demonstrated. A reference architecture for smart grid use cases is presented in Section 4 as a basis for the application of attack modelling, where the connection between attack modelling and a comprehensive risk analysis framework is discussed. The paper concludes in Section 5 by summarizing the work presented and the issues still to be addressed.

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