In-Cycle Sequential Topology Faults and Attacks: Effects on State Estimation

  • Ammara GulEmail author
  • Stephen Wolthusen
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11260)


Monitoring and state estimation as well as ultimately higher-order tasks in power networks require timely and accurate measurements arising from a wide area network. Knowledge of the current topology of the network is crucial to interpret any such measurements and is also required for state estimators to obtain correct results. As both faults and deliberate actions such as opening breakers may alter the topology, an important step in any state estimator is topology processing to obtain an accurate view for a given set of measurements. This, however, is conventionally performed prior to state estimation. We argue that this gives adversaries an opportunity to stealthily induce and possibly revert topology changes within a single scan cycle, resulting in some results being influenced by the intermittent changes as conventional models rely on the abstraction that all measurements to arrive instantly and synchronously. We provide a formal model of the attack and formulate an optimisation problem to minimise the cost to attackers and determine the effects of induced topology faults, resulting in denial of service attacks up to loss of observability and study recoverability. Finally, we compare our approach to conventional contingency analysis and offer simulation results based on the standard IEEE-14 and IEEE-30 test cases.


Power system Smart grid State estimation Sequential topology change Scan cycle Topology processing 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Information Security Group, Royal Holloway University of LondonEghamUK
  2. 2.Norwegian Information Security LaboratoryGjovik University CollegeGjovikNorway

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