IoT-enabled distributed cyber-attacks on transmission and distribution grids

Yury Dvorkin, Siddharth Garg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The Internet of things (IoT) will make it possible to interconnect and simultaneously control distributed electrical loads. Various technical and regulatory concerns have been raised that IoT-operated loads are being deployed without appropriately considering and systematically addressing potential cyber-security challenges. Hence, one can envision a hypothetical scenario when an ensemble of IoT-controlled loads can be hacked with malicious intentions of compromising operations of the electrical grid. Under this scenario, the attacker would use geographically distributed IoT-controlled loads to alternate their net power injections into the electrical grid in such a way that may disrupt normal grid operations. This paper presents a modeling framework to analyze grid impacts of distributed cyber-attacks on IoT-controlled loads. This framework is used to demonstrate how a hypothetical distributed cyber-attack propagates from the distribution electrical grid, where IoT-controlled loads are expected to be installed, to the transmission electrical grid. The techno-economic interactions between the distribution and transmission electrical grids are accounted for by means of bilevel optimization. The case study is carried out on the modified versions of the 3-area IEEE Reliability Test System (RTS) and the IEEE 13-bus distribution feeder. Our numerical results demonstrate that the severity of such attacks depends on the penetration level of IoT-controlled loads and the strategy of the attacker.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2017 North American Power Symposium, NAPS 2017
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781538626993
StatePublished - Nov 13 2017
Event2017 North American Power Symposium, NAPS 2017 - Morgantown, United States
Duration: Sep 17 2017Sep 19 2017

Publication series

Name2017 North American Power Symposium, NAPS 2017


Other2017 North American Power Symposium, NAPS 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Cyber-security
  • distributed cyber-atacks
  • intemet-of-things
  • smart appliances
  • smart grid
  • transmission and distribution integration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Control and Optimization
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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