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Hacker-Resistant Power Plant Software Shows Real-World Results in Hawaii

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Power lines.

Disabling or tampering with the U.S. power grid on a large scale could disrupt lives and cause immense economic loss, which is what makes it a logical target for hackers.

Credit: Getty Images

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have developed Spire, an open source, intrusion-tolerant control system designed to keep power flowing even if part of the grid is compromised.

Last April, Sandia National Laboratories assembled hackers to remotely attack a simulated commercial grid, and they were unable to penetrate the Spire system for three days. On the third day, the hackers were given remote access to part of Spire, but they could not disrupt overall operations.

At the end of January, the researchers went to an offline Hawaiian Electric Co. power plant in Honolulu and spent two weeks testing Spire on the plant's equipment. As part of the test, the researchers deployed a device to measure end-to-end reaction time of the commercial control system in the plant and of Spire.

The measurements showed the plant's system reflected a change in the grid's power state within 900 milliseconds to one second, while Spire showed the same change within 400 to 500 milliseconds.

From Johns Hopkins Hub
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Abstracts Copyright © 2018 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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