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Cybersecurity via Inverter-Grid Automatic Reconfiguration (CIGAR)


The proliferation of Distributed Energy Resources (DER) in electric distribution systems is challenging many existing conventional paradigms of how the grid is planned and operated. This includes strategies to ensure the safety of the electric grid from cyber attacks.  Aggregations of DER constitute a mechanism through which hostile entities can remotely influence multiple systems and states in the grid in such a way that distribution system operators have virtually no warning of an attack and no clear strategy to mitigate the effects of intrusion. Furthermore, as infrastructure already exists to reconfigure DER smart inverter settings, attackers need not infiltrate individual systems to gain control over large quantities of DER. Instead, attackers need only gain access to one of a handful of systems designed to wirelessly update DER.


●    Development of a state observer that detects the presence and severity of cyber attacks.
●    Creation of a set of adaptive controllers that adjust settings of DER inverter controllers and distribution grid voltage regulation and protection systems to mitigate the cyber-physical attack in real time.
●    Development of reinforcement learning-based agents that will explore defenses against different attack scenarios

Project Description

The LBNL-led "Cybersecurity via Inverter-Grid Automatic Reconfiguration (CIGAR)" project seeks to develop supervisory control algorithms to counteract cyber-physical attacks that have compromised multiple independent systems in the electric grid. This research will begin with an effort to analyze the stability of different types of feedback control systems (e.g, distributed energy resources, and voltage regulation and protection systems) in the electric grid to determine what parameters an attacker would change if DER and utility voltage regulation and protection systems were compromised. Then, the research team will develop adaptive control algorithms that adjust critical parameters in non-compromised systems to actively fight the cyber-physical attack. Finally, this project will utilize reinforcement learning techniques to simultaneously develop defense strategies in higher dimensions tailored to specific sections of the electric grid.  Analysis of derived attack and defensive strategies will also highlight specific system vulnerabilities as well as determine recommended upgrades to enhance system cyber security.

This project is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy's Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems (CEDS) program.

DOE/LBNL Press Release: "Berkeley Lab Aims to Strengthen the Cybersecurity of the Grid," September 26, 2017.

Principal Investigators:

Sean Peisert (PI; LBNL)
Daniel Arnold (Co-PI; LBNL)

Senior Personnel

Reinhard Gentz (LBNL)
Ciaran Roberts (LBNL)
Anna Scaglione (Lead at ASU)


Arizona State University
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)
Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
HDPV Alliance
Power Standards Laboratory
Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)
SunSpec Alliance
Solar Edge

Press regarding this project:

Berkeley Lab Aims to Strengthen the Cybersecurity of the Grid — September 27, 2017

Publications resulting from this project:

none yet

More information is available on other Berkeley Lab R&D projects focusing on cybersecurity in general, as well as specifically on cybersecurity for energy delivery systems.