Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Cyber Research Center, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceeding of 2019 IEEE SoutheastCon

Document Type



Over the past decade, the frequency of cyber attacks against power grids has steadily increased, requiring researchers to find and patch vulnerabilities before they can be exploited. Our research introduces the prototype of a man-in-the-middle attack to be implemented on a microgrid emulator of a smart grid. We present a method of violating the integrity and authentication of packets that are using the IEEE Synchrophasor Protocol in a controlled environment, but this same approach could be used on any other protocol that lacks the proper overhead to ensure the integrity and authenticity of packets. In future research, we plan to implement and test the attack on the previously mentioned smart grid testbed in order to assess the attacks feasibility and tangible effects on Wide Area Monitoring and Control applications, as well as propose possible countermeasures. For this paper, we developed a working simulation of our intended attack using the software ModelSim 10.4. The attack will modify network packet data coming from a Schweitzer Engineering Labs (SEL) Phasor Measurement Unit (PMU) hardware sensor, which provides a stream of precise timing values associated with current and voltage values, as these measured values are en route to the Open Phasor Data Concentrator (OpenPDC) application running on a Windows server. Our simulation provides and validates all of the necessary code in order to program a Field Programmable Gate Array and execute our attack on the testbed in future research.