Texas Tech University, Department of Computer Science
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Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Past Participation Ryan Wilson

Ryan Wilson


Exploiting the Security of a Smart Grid Home Area Network Through Simulation


The Smart Grid is a redesign of the current electrical grid system that will use wireless connections to increase interoperability between the consumer and the provider, with the potential to reduce overall power consumption. Security is a primary concern within all levels of the Smart Grid, especiallyat the Home Area Network (HAN) level. This research project has focused on the development of a hardware and software simulation of a HAN for the purpose of studying security violation patterns, with the software simulation emulating the hardware simulation. HAN devices communicate by using a wireless technology called ZigBee, which is a low-cost, low-power wireless standard that can have many security vulnerabilities due to the limited size of the protocol stack. A hardware simulation using a RapidSE developmental kit was created and a Denial of Service (DoS) attack was successfully executed on the hardware simulation, which used the highest level of security options. A corresponding software simulation was developed using the Jade multi-agent system. With the software simulation, which implements standard ZigBee security, a DoS attack was successfully executed and intruders agents were capable of impersonating trusted appliances. The simulations have established a research base for further investigation of HAN security attack patterns and the development of monitoring algorithms that make use of an Intrusion Detection System called Snort and event stream processing technology for detection of security violations.