Cyberattack on Phase-Locked Loops in Inverter-Based Energy Resources

Abdullahi Bamigbade, Yury Dvorkin, Ramesh Karri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article reveals power grid vulnerabilities by manipulating the phase-locked loop (PLL) in an inverter-based energy resource (IBER). An attacker can exploit the off-nominal frequency operation of a power grid coupled with stability and tracking properties of an IBER PLL to manipulate the inverter and grid operations during strong and weak grid conditions. Employing a modified IEEE-14 bus system, simulation studies show that PLL-based attack can cause: (i) revenue losses to IBER operators in weak and strong grid conditions, (ii) voltage limit violations and voltage profile deterioration at IBER bus under weak grid condition, and (iii) system-wide power-angle instability under weak and strong grid conditions. To detect the PLL-based attack, we propose attack severity index (ASI) by generating a detection error signal from local grid voltage measurements and PLL estimation. The attack is mitigated by incorporating security as an integral part of the PLL design, yielding a security-aware PLL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821-833
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Smart Grid
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2024


  • Cybersecurity
  • energy resources
  • inverters
  • phase-locked loop
  • power-angle stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science


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