British company BAE Systems has secured an $8.6m contract from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a technology for quick restoration of power after cyber attacks.
Awarded as part of DARPA’s Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation, and Characterization Systems (RADICS) programme, the technology will help speed up electric power restoration to the US electric grid following a catastrophic failure caused by a cyber attack.
The technology rapidly isolates both enterprise IT and power infrastructure networks from all channels of malicious attack.
It also helps establish a secure emergency network (SEN) among trusted organisations to facilitate the coordination necessary to restore power to the complex electric grid.
BAE Systems' communications and networking senior principal engineer and manager Victor Firoiu said: “Getting the power back on quickly after a cyber attack is critical to national defence.
“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.”
The technology detects and disconnects unauthorised internal and external users from local networks within minutes after activation. It creates a hybrid network of data links secured by multiple layers of encryption and user authentication.
The system depends on advances in network traffic control and analysis, which will allow utilities to establish and maintain emergency communications. They also establish the SEN by utilising advances in broadcast, satellite, and wireless technologies developed for agile communications in contested environments.
Designed to function in the absence of prior coordination among affected organisations, BAE Systems’ technology operates regardless of power availability, internet connectivity, disparate IT networks and grid infrastructure technology.
Image: BAE Systems to work with DARPA to develop technology that quickly restores power to the US electric grid after a cyber attack. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.