GE Global Research Awarded $12.6 M from the US DoE to Develop Quantum-level Cybersecurity Protections for Critical Power Assets

  • - Funding to support three projects to safeguard wind power installations and natural gas systems and build up cyber protection technologies to quantum-level capabilities, - Will build upon GE's ongoing work to build the world's first industrial immune system - Digital Ghost
  • to protect power plant assets from cyber threats, - GE researchers will develop and field test new solutions in the field with key industry and National Lab partners

Committed to safeguarding our nation’s most critical power assets in the coming age of quantum computing and networks, interdisciplinary teams of scientists and engineers from GE Global Research in Niskayuna, NY will lead three projects with the US Department of Energy (DOE) to develop advanced cyber-protection technologies that detect, locate and neutralize attacks on critical power systems and assets much like the human body’s immune system automatically detects and fights off viruses.  

“We’re committed to building the world’s first industrial immune system that detects, locates and neutralizes cyber threats just like the human immune system does with viruses that invade the body,” said Justin John, Technology Director, Controls and Optimization, GE Global Research. “GE is doing this by combining the deep system insights of artificial intelligence (AI) and digital twins with industrial controls. GE’s digital twins, or digital models of physical assets and systems, allows cyber threats to be detected and located. Industrial controls are the brain that automatically acts on the digital twin insights to neutralize a given threat.”

John added, “What we’re creating is essentially an invisible presence, or ‘digital ghost,’ which watches over and monitors every part of a power system and is capable of changing the operation of that system to allow that system to safely operate through a cyber-attack.”

John noted that GE researchers have made substantial progress on an existing DOE cybersecurity program, in which they are developing advanced cyber protection technologies to protect electric power plants from cyber threats. With the three new project awards, GE, together with the National Labs and a host of key industry and academic partners, will further develop advanced cyber technology solutions while also expanding application of these protections to wind power installations and natural gas systems.

John said, “With each of these new projects, we have the right set of partners to not only accelerate new developments but also to test them in the field.”

The three new project highlights are as follows:

$4.8 MM - DOE Cyber-Physical Resilience for Wind Power Generation
Fernando D’Amato, a Senior Principal Engineer at Global Research will lead a project team, working with GE Renewable Energy, Idaho National Labs and Invenergy to develop new commercially viable and field-tested cyber protection technologies for wind power generation systems that are effective against attacks on the control systems of wind turbines.

Wind power is on a fast growth trajectory. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration, it is expected to surpass hydropower as the largest renewable energy generation source this year. As part of this project, Global Research and its partners will be developing a variety of new adaptive defense technologies that enable wind power generation systems to survive sophisticated cyberattacks by enhancing the control systems capabilities of detection, localization and accommodation. The introduction of these technologies in the on-shore and the emerging off-shore market would result in a significantly more reliable and secure wind power infrastructure.

The technologies being developed will combine advanced machine learning and control algorithms that are tied to rigorous physics-based models to detect, locate and mitigate cyberattacks. The algorithms will be implemented and validated at a wind turbine testing site.

$3.9 MM – DOE Award for Cyber Physical Protection for Natural Gas Compression
Matt Nielsen, a Principal Scientist at Global Research will lead a project team, working with Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE) and Idaho National Lab to develop and test new cyber-physical security algorithms that form a new layer of protection beyond the traditional IT and OT firewalls. The U.S. natural gas supply is critical to the nation’s economy, comprising almost one-third of our energy mix. To bolster protections of our natural gas assets, the team will be integrating advanced machine learning and control algorithms to increase the resiliency of critical assets while under cyberattack. This new layer of protection is intended to monitor an asset or system’s behavior to detect the presence of attacks, locate the point of the attack, forecast emerging issues, and neutralizes attacks. The team will develop and demonstrate this technology with natural gas (NG) pipeline compression systems.  

$3.9MM - DOE Time-Sensitive Quantum Key Distribution
Stephen Bush, a computer scientist at GE Global Research will lead a project team, working with Qubitekk, Oak Ridge National Labs, the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, and MITRE to provide a cybersecure solution that will survive into the age of quantum computing. The emergence of quantum computing will enable exponential improvements in computing capabilities that hackers could use to engineer more sophisticated attacks. The focus of this project will be on developing new, quantum cybersecurity protections that stay ahead of attackers in the age of quantum computing to safeguard critical systems.

The goal of this project is to unite the unique properties of Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) and Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) into a single, secure, deterministic, industrial communication network that can protect against an attack from a quantum computer. Results may be contributed to the IEEE 1913 Software-Defined Quantum Communications working group for industry-wide benefit.

Source: General Electric (GE)
Date: Oct 4, 2018