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Quick recovery to the electric grid after a cyber-attack

14 March 2017

BAE Systems is working with DARPA to develop technology to quickly restore power to the electric grid after a cyber-attack.

Image courtesy of BAE Systems

The US Defence Advanced Researh Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded BAE Systems’ an $8.6M contract to develop technology designed to quickly restore power to the US electric grid after a failure caused by a cyber-attack.  

The technology quickly isolates the enterprise IT and power infrastructure networks from all conduits of malicious attack. The technology establishes a Secure Emergency Network (SEN) among trusted organisations, enabling the coordination necessary to restore power.

“Getting the power back on quickly after a cyber-attack is critical to national defence,” said Victor Firoiu, senior principal engineer and manager of Communications and Networking at BAE Systems. “Given the scale and complexity of the US power grid, and the chaos following a coordinated, large-scale attack, this is no easy task. Our work with DARPA is intended to stop ongoing attacks and minimise downtime.”

Once activated, the technology detects and disconnects unauthorised internal and external users from local networks within minutes. It also creates a robust, hybrid network of data links secured by multiple layers of encryption and user authentication. The systems rely on advances in network traffic control and analysis that will enable utilities to establish and maintain emergency communications. They also establish the SEN using advances in broadcast, satellite, and wireless technologies developed for agile communications in contested environments.

This technology is designed to work as a part of DARPA’s Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation and Characterisation Systems (RADICS) program. This program and the technology behind it, operates in the absence of affected organisations and will work regardless of power availability, Internet access, grid infrastructure technology, situational awareness or ongoing disruption efforts by adversaries. 

Learn more about BAE Systems’ cyber research and development expertise here.

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