$12M DOE Grant Helps Fight Cybercrime

Dr. Carolina Cruz-Neira

With an over $12 million grant from the Department of Energy (DOE), UALR and four other universities are taking on cybercrime.

Led by the University of Arkansas, the team, along with several industry partners, has launched the Secure Electric Energy Delivery Systems (SEEDS) Center, where they will develop cutting-edge technologies to help power delivery systems withstand cyber-attacks.

H. Alan Mantooth and Qinghua Li of the University of Arkansas are the principal investigators of the project, titled “An Interdisciplinary Approach to Integratable, Composable, and Evolvable Cybersecurity in Energy Delivery Systems.” The project received $12,226,504 from the DOE to fund five years of research. Dr. Carolina Cruz-Neira, Director of the Emerging Analytics Center (EAC), will lead the UALR portion of the project. As a subaward recipient, UALR is slated to receive $889,456 over the next five years.

Dr. Mantooth, Dr. Li, and Dr. Cruz-Neira will be joined by Bruno Sinopoli of Carnegie Mellon University, Rick Blum of Lehigh University, Osama Mohammad of Florida International University, and Philip Huff of Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation. The team will also engage students in the research, training them in cybersecurity science and practices.

The heart of the SEEDS Center’s mission is to investigate “integratable, composable, and evolvable” methods for understanding and managing cybersecurity for the nation’s power grid. The researchers will ground the new security software on these principles, ensuring that it can be adapted, expanded, and modified for a variety of systems and situations. With cybercrime becoming a serious concern for both private and government organizations, the proposed security tools meet an immediate, widespread need.

The researchers will design software tools that defend electrical systems against cyber-attacks that would otherwise disable them. To design the best possible security measures, the research team will develop the new tools from the ground up, from preliminary risk assessment to final product testing. Throughout the project, Dr. Cruz-Neira and the EAC staff will build visualizations of the anticipated cyber-attacks and of the security tools in action, utilizing the EAC’s state-of-the-art virtual reality and visualization resources.

These complex visual representations will also be used to integrate the research results from the other institutions into a single situation awareness environment. These visual representations will be invaluable to both the researchers and the systems’ operators, aiding their understanding and enhancing their experience in managing the safety of the national power grid.

“The impact of this research is tremendous,” the researchers stated in their proposal. “By providing more reliable delivery of power as a result of reducing outages caused by cyber-attacks, the electric power system remains up and economic loss associated with downtime is eliminated.”


This material references work supported by the Department of Energy under Award Number DE-OE0000779. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.

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