Demonstrating Cyber-Physical Attacks and Defense for Synchrophasor Technology in Smart Grid

Rafiullah Khan, Kieran McLaughlin, John Hastings, David Laverty, Sakir Sezer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

8 Citations (Scopus)
346 Downloads (Pure)


Synchrophasor technology is used for real-time control and monitoring in smart grid. Previous works in literature identified critical vulnerabilities in IEEE C37.118.2 synchrophasor communication standard. To protect synchrophasor-based systems, stealthy cyber-attacks and effective defense mechanisms still need to be investigated.

This paper investigates how an attacker can develop a custom tool to execute stealthy man-in-the-middle attacks against synchrophasor devices. In particular, four different types of attack capabilities have been demonstrated in a real synchrophasor-based synchronous islanding testbed in laboratory: (i) command injection attack, (ii) packet drop attack, (iii) replay attack and (iv) stealthy data manipulation attack. With deep technical understanding of the attack capabilities and potential physical impacts, this paper also develops and tests a distributed Intrusion Detection System (IDS) following NIST recommendations. The functionalities of the proposed IDS have been validated in the testbed for detecting aforementioned cyber-attacks. The paper identified that a distributed IDS with decentralized decision making capability and the ability to learn system behavior could effectively detect stealthy malicious activities and improve synchrophasor network security.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication16th Annual Conference on Privacy, Security and Trust
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-5386-7493-2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2018
EventPrivacy, Security and Trust 2018 - Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 28 Aug 201830 Aug 2018


ConferencePrivacy, Security and Trust 2018
Abbreviated titlePST 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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