UI Cybersecurity Testbed for Power Systems

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The goal of this project is to design and implement a virtual display or dashboard that will report cyber-attacks in a meaningful way and test the display through designed and implemented power systems simulations. Documentation of these processes will also be provided for future research.

  • University Of Idaho UofI [1]
  • EXPO funding from Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories SEL [2]
Team Name
  • Fall 2018 - Spring 2019
  • August 21, 2018 - May 4, 2019
Faculty Adviser
  • Feng Li
  • Hussain Beleed
  • Bruce Bolden
  • Ibukun Oyewumi
  • Yacine Chakhchoukh
  • Daniel Conte de Leon
  • Brian Johnson / Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories SEL
  • University of Idaho
Team Members
  • Hayden Lepla
  • Tori Overholtzer
  • Chen Yang
  • Li Yu Rao
  • Jia jia Liu
  • Josue E

Problem Definition[edit]


Industrial control systems (ICS) and power generation systems need to be reliable, to ensure that power delivery is always available. It has become more prevalent that these systems are vulnerable to cyber-attacks due to the growing complexity of these systems. To solve this, Team SCADACS is working with the University of Idaho (UofI) and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) to help design a cyber security test-bed for power systems. The test-bed will enhance cyber security research by simulating existing power systems and cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure based on the smart grid.


The test-bed will contain an operational dashboard for the simulated power systems which will highlight cyber-attacks for system operators and keep log records of activity. This deliverable will enhance the functionality of the test-bed.


The scope of this project encompasses further collaborative research between numerous disciplines of engineering involving both graduates and undergraduates.

Design Considerations[edit]

Functional Requirements[edit]

The system shall function where a display or dashboard will harvest information provided off the RTDS, the power racks and SCADA. The information displayed on the dashboard should provide enough security information to a system operator while not overwhelming the system operator with information. The data will consist of information regarding cybersecurity breaches from a simulated power grid. The power grid simulation will be operational using RSCAD as its simulation software and will need to run on the RTDS and power racks. Documentation will need to be provided about the functions of these operations, how they were designed and another necessary information to enhance maintainability for the project and allow for future research and an expanded scope.

Electrical Requirements[edit]

The electrical requirements will include integrating the RTDS, power racks and SCADA equipment with the power test simulations. The power test simulations should use these systems to create the testing environment for the dashboard. It should have documentation of the power test simulations used with the design for future maintenance and use.

Software Requirements[edit]

The software requirements will involve creating an algorithm to use the data provided from the equipment which will filter out any noise, recognize a cybersecurity threat and alert the system operator to the threat by use of visual display. The visual display needs to be designed so that it is easy to use. It should be easy to navigate for information, shouldn’t overwhelm the operator with data but still provide enough data to handle the situation, and should not lose information in the conversion process between raw data and the visual display. It should have requested features like history logs and provide some form of geographical location information. It should have documentation with the design for future maintenance and use. There will probably be included menus for navigation between log data, color emphases to isolate cybersecurity threats on a virtualized map display using some GIS software, text-based highlights, levels of information in menus such as overviews to low level verbatim data (useful for troubleshooting, maintenance and finding out more details about the threat).

Regulatory Requirements[edit]

This software and hardware will be used in accordance with the restrictions provided by the grants and shall be used for educational and research purposes. Each individual working on this project is expected to work professionally in accordance with the ethical restrictions placed on each degree by certified organizations. For example, computer science and electrical computational engineering students will abide by the ethical restrictions imposed by ACM, IEEE, ISSA, EC under the following codes of ethics: ACM Codes of Ethics and Professional Conduct, IEEE Code of Ethics, ISSA Code of Ethics, EC Council Code of Ethics.

Cost Requirements[edit]

The budget mainly comes through grants from the University of Idaho and Murdock Trust. SEL is also subcontracted to provide equipment. The grants are sponsored to promote research in areas of critical infrastructure. As such, budget requests must comply by the requirements specified by the grants and the correct procedures must be followed when requesting funds. Budget requests can be made through Brian Johnson on the Thursday client meetings. Our project has very minimal cost requirements. Most of the hardware equipment needed has already been purchased and so there is no need to purchase any additional hardware. To help promote availability, our group will use open source software or else develop our software to fulfill the tasks required. There is a buffer budget of $500.00 for any unforeseen expenses, regarding software licensing, or lab key deposits. We also have budgeted $100.00 for our expo display supplies. Other cost requirements will include producing a functional design that doesn’t incorporate any unnecessary cost into the project. Labor costs for lab usage, software development, simulation development, testing and documentation are set at $0.00/hr because it doesn’t directly factor into our budget due to the nature of the project.

Project Learning[edit]

Learning how to use the RSCAD software from provided tutorials for electrical system modeling. These tutorials will provide the framework to create a 9 bus electrical system which we will be using as a research and testing model for the cyber security analysis and dashboard display functionality. Technical knowledge will come from learning about network interfacing, the SCADA devices and equipment functionality (RSCAD, RTDS, RTAC) including thesoftware it uses to function. Other security related standards such as DPN3 and development resource tools such as GIS software for the dashboard display.

Soft skills include learning how to integrate with other previous research and progress that has already been developed for this project.

9bus IEEE electrical system standard
Simplified Component Generator and Bus system
Voltage Diagram for System Bus 7 and 8. Used in verification testing of the 9-bus system
Peak Voltage for System bus 7 and 8
Power Data Flow
Circuit breaker controller for 9bus system
GATO analogue Component Hardware
Three phase capctive voltage current transformer
Protection automation controller , hardware

Before the decision of graylog and scadabr, there were also options of elk and security onion so there was some research into functionality with those log and security tools as well. The CS students have been busy integrating several requested logging tools and HMI interfaces together into one dashboard configuration. They have learned about the functionality of these tools (Graylog and scadaBR), Virtual Machines (VMware) and memory requirements, Network Configurations and IP protocols, and the overall system structure of the testbed including how to interface our dashboard with the equipment to pull data. We have also learned about control system hardware its integration with the real time digital simulator and relays and basic power simulations. We have developed an understanding of how the system models and actual power grid and the importance of creating a dashboard to detect cyber related attacks on the simulated system for future research.

Link to Graylog Documentation: http://docs.graylog.org/en/3.0/ Link to SCADABR Documentation: https://sourceforge.net/p/scadabr/wiki/Manual%20ScadaBR%20English%200%20Summary/

Final Design[edit]

Dashboard tools and integration, Graylog handles logging and geolocating IP addresses and intrusion detection with alert notices, ScadaBR handles system health
Graylog Dashboard with ScadaBR integrated as a pluggin, widget


Verification Testing Flow on Dashboard and Power Simulations for Accuracy and Functionality

Team Members[edit]

All group members also have a role to participate in the project on a fundamental level using their expertise in electrical engineering and computer science.
ToriOverholtzerIndivphotoSCADACS.PNG My name is Tori Overholtzer and I am an undergraduate in computer science. I choose this project due to my interest in pursuing a career in cybersecurity focusing on information assurance and security breach analysis. In this project I will apply the knowledge I have gained through various software engineering classes and some cybersecurity related courses to help develop the software, documentation and testing requested.Tori Overholtzer will be responsible for documentation, portfolio management and wiki development. Responsibilities for these roles will be ensuring that project documentation is updated, complete and accessible.
HaydenLeplaIndivphotoSCADACS.PNG My name is Hayden Lepla and I’m a senior computer science student emphasizing with cybersecurity. I chose this project for my interest in cyber security with low level power systems. It’s become very ubiquitous that systems like scada need to be protected from malicious use. I hope in this project to develop test methods to prevent and detect intrusion/tampering with Scada devices.Hayden Lepla will be team lead. He will be responsible for overseeing the different aspects of the project and ensuring they are on track and are of an appropriate quality.
ChenYangIndivphotoSCADACS.PNG My name is Chen Yang, an electrical and engineering student. I am curious about testbed systems. This project needs power system knowledge and knowledge using a real time digital simulator (RTDS) with commercial control hardware and software connect to a hardware in the loop environment. I have learned about this through electrical engineering and exposure to computer science. My goal for this project is “to design, implement and test a dashboard for monitoring and controlling the testbed to provide situational awareness for the operators of the testbed.” (1) Furthermore, I would like to apply knowledge of power systems in real life and gain some computer science knowledge. I would like to practice my communication and language skills through the role of client contact. The primary client contact will be Chen Yang. Responsibilities related to the role of client contact will include attending client meetings and giving small presentations to the client about project progress.
LiYuRaoIndivphotoSCADACS.PNG My name is Li Yu Rao. I am a senior electrical engineering student. I plan on applying the knowledge I have gained in the past three years to this project. I choose this project to help get experience before I graduate from university. I hope that it helps me get an internship in the future. My goal for this project is to finish on time and try my best to meet the client’s expectations, while learning how to communicate and cooperate with others. Li Yu Rao will be responsible for budget. Responsibilities related to the budget will include proposing the budget plan, ensuring that the project stays on budget, producing budget requests with coordinating advisors, and updating Chen Yang with the budget report for client updates.
JiaJiaLiuIndivphotoSCADACS.PNG My name is Jia Jia Liu ( Kelly ). I am an electrical engineering student. The reason I choose this project is because I can apply what I’ve learned at university and develop new knowledge which can be useful in my career. I am the meeting organizer and am charge of writing the meeting agenda and reminding the group members, clients and mentors of weekly meetings. I am willing to work on extra tasks for the development of this project. It is a pleasure to have this opportunity and I am glad to be apart of this team.Jia Jia Liu will be responsible for meeting organization and reminder notices. Responsibilities for this role will include using google calendar to set up meeting dates, organizing meeting discussion topics and sending out reminder notices through emails and the discord chat for group members, mentors and clients.
JosueEspinosaGodinezIndivphotoSCADACS.PNG Josue Godinez Espinosa

Additional Documentation[edit]

Design Validation Plan[edit]


Project Schedule[edit]




Meeting Minutes[edit]

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Client Interview[edit]