Security risk assessment for SDN-enabled smart grids

Hellen Maziku, Sachin Shetty, David M. Nicol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The increasing energy dependence of cloud data centers to Internet-of-Things necessitates availability of high reliable power systems. Smart grid enables two-way flow of energy from power to plug to be automated, monitored and controlled. However, IP-based communications in smart grids increase the likelihood of network attacks, such as IP spoofing and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. These attacks cause damages such as wrong smart meter readings, false demands for electricity, and impaired protection devices. Thus, there is a need for cyber resilient smart grid communication network. Software Defined Networking (SDN) which has the ability to redefine operations of a network at runtime presents the most resilience benefits when used as an underlying infrastructure for the smart grid. In this paper, we present a framework to assess security risks within an SDN-enabled smart grid communication network. Specifically, we quantify the security risks for DoS attacks on Intelligent Electronic Devices (IEDs) and the IEC 61850 network. Our security score model incorporates the critical role of each IED and measures impact on the overall smart grid network. We illustrate how SDN relieves our smart grid network of congestion and improves timing performance of IEC 61850 type messages, making them time compliant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalComputer Communications
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • Cyber resilience
  • IED
  • OpenFlow
  • SDN
  • Security metrics
  • Smart grid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications

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