ASU engineers working to protect nation’s energy-delivery systems from cyberattacks

November 25, 2015

Arizona State University has been named a partner in a $28.1 million national research program to develop cybersecurity tools and standards to protect the country’s electricity infrastructure from attacks.

The University of Illinois is leading the program, called the Cyber Resilient Energy Delivery Consortium (CREDC). It will work with 11 other universities and national laboratories to focus on improving the cyber resiliency of energy-delivery systems. portraits of ASU engineers Anna Scaglione and Gail-Joon Ahn Left: Anna Scaglione, professor of electrical, computer and energy engineering. Right: Gail-Joon Ahn, Fulton Entrepreneurial Professor of computing, informatics and decision systems engineering and director of the Global Security Initiative’s Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics. Download Full Image

The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering is leading ASU’s effort, under the leadership of Anna Scaglione, professor of electrical, computer and energy engineering, and Gail-Joon Ahn, Fulton Entrepreneurial Professor of computing, informatics and decision systems engineering and director of ASU’s Global Security Initiative’s Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics.

Funding for the ASU’s part of the project is $1.2 million.

The consortium will undertake research, development, education and outreach activities — with intense industry engagement — to develop solutions. The consortium model explicitly creates a pipeline that generates research results and takes them through to evaluation and deployment of prototypes in industrial settings, with a handoff to the energy sector through licensing, start-ups and open-source mechanisms.

Energy-delivery systems are critical infrastructures and, due to their wide area footprint, rely on complex industrial control networks and enterprise networks to ensure reliability in their day-to-day operations and for their management.

“The computer network technologies used expose these systems to cyberattacks similar to those impacting financial institutions, government and many other enterprises,” Scaglione said. “In addition to the breach of  confidential information and possible economic losses, attacks to energy-delivery systems can potentially activate malicious automation equipment with dire consequences, since they can damage physical instrumentation and, at a larger scale, lead to outages which have great socio-economic impact.”

“Our stake in this initiative is to focus on securing several new technologies that are emerging,” Ahn said. “We will study the coupling that exists between energy-delivery systems and other infrastructures, including building and home automation infrastructures and the so-called Internet of Things, which can make the end use of electricity responsive to grid congestion, but may also be vulnerable to cyberattacks aimed at creating imbalance in the grid.”

ASU researchers also will study how future energy-delivery systems can leverage the trends toward cloud computing and cloud storage without opening the door to new cybersecurity threats.

“Cybersecurity is one of the most serious challenges facing grid modernization, which is why maintaining a robust, ever-growing pipeline of cutting-edge technologies is essential to helping the energy sector continue adapting to the evolving landscape,” said Patricia Hoffman, assistant secretary for the Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. “To meet this challenge, we must continue investing in innovative, next-generation technologies that can be transitioned to the energy sector to reduce the risk of a power disruption resulting from a cyber incident.” 

Sharon Keeler

ASU student-success programs win top honors

November 25, 2015

Arizona State University was awarded the Integrated Impact Award by the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education during the Pathways to Postsecondary Education Awards at the Tempe Mission Palms on Nov. 13.

The Integrated Impact Award was awarded to ASU for the comprehensive and integrated student support it provides and to encourage other integrated models statewide.

“ASU is committed to ensuring that students in the pipeline have the support they need to be college-ready,” said Beatriz Rendon, vice president for educational outreach. “Once these students come to the University, we have a variety of support services designed to ensure that students are successful including tutoring, academic coaching and Career Services. Together, these efforts demonstrate the promise highlighted in our charter: to be defined by whom we include and how they succeed.”

The Pathways to Postsecondary Education Awards recognize the college-access programs that prepare or encourage students to pursue a college education and programs that support students toward postsecondary-education completion.

The ASU Cesar E. Chavez Leadership Institute, Promoting High School Students’ Future Success in College, Joaquin Bustoz Math-Science Honors Program, Access ASU and First-Year Success Center were also recognized by the commission.

The five nominated programs support students in significant ways, and judges chose to recognize those programs individually, in addition to the overall Integrated Impact Award received by ASU.

“It is our mission to give every Arizonan the opportunity to pursue a postsecondary education,” said April Osborn, executive director at the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education.

Through an array of student-support programs such as American Dream Academy, Future Sun Devil Families and SPARKS, Access ASU helps students in local communities increase their chances of completing a postsecondary education. Once enrolled at ASU, Educational Outreach and Student Services provides students the support necessary to excel academically and complete his or her college journey through graduation.

“Access ASU, CCLI (Cesar E. Chavez Leadership Institute) and the Joaquin Bustoz Math-Science Honors Program are outstanding examples of ASU’s commitment to empowering Arizona students with the academic preparation and college knowledge they need to pursue their higher-education goals,” said Sylvia Symonds, assistant vice president for educational outreach.

To learn more about ASU’s educational outreach programs visit, Download Full Image

Senior Media Relations Coordinator, EdPlus