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Automatic Detection of Attacks on Substations

St. Pölten UAS, Siemens and Wels Strom Develop Warning System

Malware Lab at St. Pölten UAS

Due to the introduction of smart grids, which should render the power supply more efficient and enhance user service, the associated automation networks are becoming more and more complex. The resulting massive increase in data communication raises questions concerning IT security and opens up new ways of attacking critical infrastructures.

In the course of a research project, Siemens AG Austria, Wels Strom GmbH and the St. Pölten UAS have developed a warning system.

Cyber Attacks on Substations

Substations are an essential part of the energy supply network and thus of a critical infrastructure. The use of information and communication technologies in these systems is state of the art by now. 

“This results in a considerable potential threat of cyber attacks, as incidents in the recent past have shown”, says Paul Tavolato, researcher at the Institute of IT Security Research of the St. Pölten UAS.

Tavolato and project partners of companies Siemens AG Austria and Wels Strom GmbH researched a monitoring system for the automation network in substations and examined its feasibility.

Detecting Attacks with Artificial Intelligence

The system uses artificial intelligence techniques to acquire the normal behaviour of the data traffic in a substation and uses this knowledge to monitor ongoing operations. “The system detects deviations from normal operations in real time and alerts the staff on duty. This increases the security of the substations considerably”, explains Tavolato.

Based on the project results, Siemens AG Austria intends to develop a warning system to product maturity and hence improve the security of the energy supply.

Project Substation Security

The project substation security was funded by the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund in the course of the programme Energy Research. Siemens AG Austria and Wels Strom GmbH were project partners.