Processes in Smart Grids

Smart Grids will enable a direct communication between supplier and consumer. The supply networks will be controlled and managed centrally by digital technologies, which will balance supply and demand in the distribution system and will facilitate feeding-in of renewable energies. To ensure trouble-free operation of this future power supply, the system must be protected from unauthorized access.

If for instance an electricity consumer moves out of the flat, the power supply is switched off by remote shutdown via Smart Meter. The remote shutdown, however, bears an increased target for hackers, which may aim for extensive interruption of the power supply.

Potential hacker attacks can be sounded out by modeling such events as processes, including definition of procedure steps and sequences. For this purpose, Günther Eibl, Sebastian Burkhart and Cornelia Ferner from the Josef Ressel Center investigate the processes of Smart Grid within the research project PROMISE.
In “Exploration of the Potential of Process Mining for Intrusion detection in Smart Energy Grids” the team built a process model, modeled an attack tree and evaluated the detectability of any possible attack by common as well as new methods of process analysis.
The results of this research project were recently presented by Günther Eibl at the Third International Conference on Information Systems Security and Privacy (ICISSP 2017) in Porto, Portugal.

Concerning the example of energy remote shutdown the researchers found out that current analysis methods like conformance checking mainly recognize new, modified or repeatedly generated shutdown messages.

“The trick is that only knowledge of the process is required and the method of detection works automatically. It is consequently not necessary to generate a new method of detection for every new attack. The disadvantages are a substantially increased effort for data acquisition and a stronger process control”, Eibl complements the results.

Future research efforts at the Josef Ressel Center will not concentrate on process modeling only, but will additionally apply process mining to learn from event data.

  • [PDF] G. Eibl, C. Ferner, T. Hildebrandt, F. Stertz, S. Burkhart, S. Rinderle-Ma, and D. Engel, “Exploration of the Potential of Process Mining for Intrusion Detection in Smart Metering,” in 3rd International Conference on Information Systems Security and Privacy, 2017.
    author = {Eibl, G{\"{u}}nther and Ferner, Cornelia and Hildebrandt, Tobias and Stertz, Florian and Burkhart, Sebastian and Rinderle-Ma, Stefanie and Engel, Dominik},
    title = {Exploration of the Potential of Process Mining for Intrusion Detection in Smart Metering},
    booktitle = {3rd International Conference on Information Systems Security and Privacy},
    year = {2017},
    abstract = {Process mining is a set of data mining techniques that learn and analyze processes based on event logs. While process mining has recently been proposed for intrusion detection in business processes, it has never been applied to smart metering processes. The goal of this paper is to explore the potential of process mining for the detection of intrusions into smart metering systems. As a case study the remote shutdown process has been modeled and a threat analysis was conducted leading to an extensive attack tree. It is shown that currently proposed process mining techniques based on conformance checking do not suffice to find all attacks of the attack tree; an inclusion of additional perspectives is necessary. Consequences for the design of a realistic testing environment based on simulations are discussed.},
    keywords = {IDS,Intrusion Detection,Process Mining,Smart Grids,Smart Metering,process mining,security},
    pdf = {},

Big Data in Smart Grids

Andreas Unterweger presented latest research results of the Josef Ressel Centre at the 2016 IEEE International Conference on Big Data.

Andreas Unterweger and colleagues of the Josef Ressel Centers’ Privacy and Security division develop methods for data protection and data security for the future operation of Smart Grids.
One major point of interest is the data size of the power customers Smart Meter data. The data size depends on its resolution and therefore impacts the transmission performance of Smart Grids.

Andreas Unterweger and Dominik Engel evaluated the compressibility of Smart Grid data depending on its resolution. In their paper “Lossless Compression of High Frequency Voltage and Current Data in Smart Grids” Unterweger and Engel pay special attention to high resolution data.

Andreas Unterweger recently presented the outcome of this paper on the IEEE International Conference on Big Data in Washington. In his talk Unterweger showed that high resolution data has the same compression performance as low resolution data. This surprising result shows that Smart Grids do not need as much transmission capacity as expected.

  • [PDF] [DOI] A. Unterweger and D. Engel, “Lossless Compression of High-Frequency Voltage and Current Data in Smart Grids,” in Proceedings of the 2016 IEEE International Conference on Big Data, 2016, p. 3131–3139.
    author = {Unterweger, Andreas and Engel, Dominik},
    title = {{Lossless Compression of High-Frequency Voltage and Current Data in Smart Grids}},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of the 2016 IEEE International Conference on Big Data},
    year = {2016},
    pages = {3131--3139},
    publisher = {IEEE},
    doi = {10.1109/BigData.2016.7840968},
    pdf = {},

Sharing knowledge

JRC researcher discussed new privacy and security perspectives with visiting researcher Sanaz Taheri Boshrooyeh

Social networks like Facebook, YouTube or Instagram have become parts of our daily lives. We share private media such as videos and photos with friends via them. However, unfortunately not only friends like our private media. Companies pay significant amounts of money to use these private data for marketing purposes and hackers do like to create fake profiles of us for dubios purposes.

Sanaz Taheri Boshrooyeh , a 26 years old PhD student from Koḉ University in Instanbul, is searching for more privacy and security in social networks.
Our research center was pleased to welcome Ms Boshrooyeh via a knowledge exchange programme (Short-Term Scientific Mission). She also held a special guest lecture about “preservation of privacy in social media advertising”.

Our researchers and Sanaz Taheri Boshrooyeh are looking forward to further scientific exchange and synergies. “We are already working on a joint research for security in Smart Grid protocols. Therefore Sanaz’s expertise is very valuable for getting new perspectives”, explaines researcher Andreas Unterweger, who is member of the EU COST Action IC 1206 management committee and organizer of Ms Boshrooyehs visit.

Getting energy processes under control

PROMISE: Process Mining for Intrusion Detection

JRZ_SmartMeter_Privacy_Security_300x225The Josef Ressel Center for User-Centric Smart Grid Privacy, Security and Control together with the University of Applied Sciences Salzburg and the University of Vienna are happy to announce project PROMISE – a joint research project in the area of smart grids. The PROMISE project aims to explore new opportunities for analyzing data and Smart Grid Operation processes through the latest analytical techniques such as process mining.

The European Union predicts the installation of about 200 million smart meters for energy and 45 million smart meters for gas for Europe until 2020. Each of these smart meters will continuously produce data. Currently, the resulting enormous amount of data is only rudimentarily analyzed – if at all. Specifically, information about processes that control the energy supply remain unexplored.

The PROMISE project aims to change that. A first area of research is the detection of anomalies, e.g. deviations from the predefined or reference processes. Such deviations can be highly security critical and reveal, for example, unauthorized intrusion into Smart Grid Operation processes. Applying analysis techniques in PROMISE is particularly encouraging as it will help facilitate a more accurate intrusion detection and thereby reduce false alarms.

PROMISE unites an interdisciplinary consortium of partners from research and the industry. The University of Applied Sciences Salzburg (represented by Professor Dominik Engel) serves as project coordinator and contributes expertise on data security and privacy. The University of Vienna is a research partner – with Professor Stefanie Rinderle-Ma and her team who will account for expertise on process-oriented data analysis. As PROMISE’s industry partner, Teradata will participate and contribute know-how on big data analytics and provision the innovative Teradata Aster Discovery Platform. Using the Teradata Aster Discovery Platform, application scenarios will be developed in cooperation with different energy supply companies, energy distribution system operators as well as with the Smart Grid model region Salzburg.

Overall, PROMISE combines highly innovative research with practical value. The Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) funds the PROMISE project for one year through the funding framework ICT of the Future.


The Effect of Data Granularity on Load Data Compression

24112015_Energieinformatik_UntA 300x225At the D-A-CH Energy Informatics 2015 conference in Karlsruhe, Andreas Unterweger presented the most recent results on compression of smart meter data. In the joint publication with Dominik Engel and Martin Ringwelski (TU Hamburg-Harburg), he analyzed the impact of data granularity on the compressibility of this data.
The compression of load profile data could play a big role in the smart grid in the future. Since every household in the future energy grid is equipped with a smart meter, which has to send and store load profiles daily, data compression can reduce the effort required for doing this.
The presented work by Unterweger, Engel and Ringwelski shows that not all data in all resolutions are effectively compressible. Furthermore, the additional computing power required by state-of-the-art smart-grid-specific compression algorithms has been analyzed. IT has been shown that the additional effort is more or less neglible, which allows for the practical use of these algorithms in the future energy grid.

The D-A-CH Engergy Informatics conference, a joint project of three countries, deals with ist ambitious goals to increase energy efficiency, reduce green house gas emissions and increase the portion of renewable energy with IT-based solutions.
Details on the conference: 4. D-A-CH Konferenz Energieinformatik

  • [PDF] A. Unterweger, D. Engel, and M. Ringwelski, “The Effect of Data Granularity on Load Data Compression,” Energy Informatics 2015, vol. 9424, p. 69–80, 2015.
    author = {Andreas Unterweger and Dominik Engel and Martin Ringwelski},
    title = {The Effect of Data Granularity on Load Data Compression},
    journal = {Energy Informatics 2015},
    year = {2015},
    volume = {9424},
    pages = {69--80},
    editor = {Gottwalt, Sebastian and K\"onig, Lukas and Schmeck, Hartmut},
    pdf = {},
    publisher = {Springer International Publishing},
    series = {Lecture Notes in Computer Science},

AK-Wissenschaftspreis 2015

231115 AK-Preis UntA_entrust 300x225Andreas Unterweger’s dissertation on privacy for surveillance was honoured as a significant future-oriented contribution to society by the Austrian Labour Chamber. Furthermore, Joris Lückenga, one of the Master students working at the center, has been awarded the AK prize.

Among other things, Andreas Unterweger’s research deals with methods for privacy for people depicted on surveillance camera footage. In particular, his research focuses on processing already compressed video data. This could so far only be perfomed with higher expense and/or less effective results by known methods. Andreas Unterweger proposed encryption methods that are suitable for all image and video formats commonly used in surveillance at present. With these methods, picture information can be restored in contrast to blackening or pixelating persons. This is for example useful for responsible authorities in crime detection to identify offenders without invading the privacy of uninvolved people.

Presentation of SGAM Toolbox

Goran Lastro was inviteGoran Lastro 300x225d to present the SGAM Toolbox to the Enterprise Architect User Group (EAUG) Stuttgart, just in time with the release of its version 0.6.
In his talk Goran pointed out the importance of the SGAM Toolbox in managing the complexity of future energy systems in the Smart Grid, as in the course of the energy revolution decentralized feeders are being increasingly integrated in the power supply system. The electrical network therefore faces the challenge of governing bi-directional power flows on the one hand and maintaining a balance of production and consumption on the other hand. To facilitate this, the electrical network is upgraded into a Smart Grid under increased use of IT.
The development of the Smart Grid as a complex system-of-systems (SoS), involves a variety of stakeholders from different domains and disciplines. To support this development the Josef Ressel Center specified a domain-specific modelling language based on the European Smart Grid Architecture model and implemented it as an extension (“SGAM Toolbox”) for Enterprise Architect. The SGAM Toolbox has been approved by Sparx Systems as a 3rd party solution for Energy Systems in the meantime. Just like the previous versions the current version is offered as “free to use” (please just let us know you are using our toolbox and let us reference your logo/website here) and is available here.

The Smart Grid Architecture Model and its practical application

06072015 Symposium Netzleittechnik NeuC 1529x920 entrustFollowing an invitiation of CONSULECTRA Christian Neureiter spoke about practical application of the SGAM Toolbox at the “SYMPOSIUM Netzleittechnik 2015”. The SGAM Toolbox co-developed at our research center is applied in various research projects yet such as DISCERN. Its application will help grid operators to manage the complexity of future energy systems and to ensure a solide energy supply to the European Union. In his talk Christian Neureiter set a focus on the toolboxes performance and gave an insight into integration in the European standardisation programm, respectively the integration of NIST Logical Reference Models into the SGAM framework.
More details: 2015-06-24 Consulectra Hamburg

CONSULECTRA is a manufacturer- and supplier-independent consultancy, which focuses in particular on consulting energy supply companies at home and abroad. Current issues are traditionally discussed by CONSULECTRA in joint symposiums with experts and executives from the power company. This years SYMPOSIUM Netzleittechnik 2015 gave particular attention to IT security.