Blockchain increases Grid Resilience by enhancing Cybersecurity
Blockchain has been shown to increase the smart grid’s resilience by validating communication between components.
Researchers at the US DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have built a framework to detect anomalous activity on the grid, including data tampering, spoofing, and unauthorized changes to device settings. This study is thought to be a first for blockchain technology. Such actions could set off cascade power outages as protective devices trip breakers.
A combination of fundamental cryptographic techniques, including the secure hash algorithm and asymmetric cryptography, private permissioned blockchain, baselining configuration data, the Raft consensus algorithm, and the Hyperledger Fabric framework, are all included in the Grid Guard framework.
Because hashing and the Raft consensus algorithm are used, if an entity tries to tamper with a record at one instance of the database, the other ledger nodes are unaffected. Instead, they collaborate to cross-reference each other and quickly locate and remove any incorrectly added data.
“This framework provides us with a new capability to respond to anomalies quickly,” says Raymond Borges Hink, who led the research at ORNL.
“In the long run, we could detect an unauthorized system change faster, track down its source, and provide more reliable failure analysis.” The goal is to mitigate the impact of a cyberattack or equipment failure.”
He continues by saying that the technology, which distributes configuration and operational data redundantly across numerous servers using tamper-resistant blockchain, can also assist in identifying in real-time whether a cyberattack or equipment failure was the cause of the incident.
The equipment’s information and settings are constantly compared to a statistical baseline of typical voltage, frequency, breaker state, and power quality. Finally, the last exemplary configuration kept in the blockchain is compared to the equipment settings that are periodically collected.
This makes it possible to identify changes to settings quickly and determine whether they were authorized and what caused them.
Cyber monitoring of the grid may necessitate the processing of large amounts of data. The computation on the blockchain is performed on the bulk data, which saves energy and reduces data storage space.
Following the successful demonstration of the Grid Guard framework in ORNL’s grid research testbed, the researchers are now expanding the approach to include communications between renewable energy sources and multiple utilities.