Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of Secure Communication for Line Current Differential Protection Systems over Packet Switched Networks


In this work we propose a secure communication concept for the protection of critical power supply and distribution infrastructure. Especially, we consider the line current differential protection method for modern smart grid implementations. This protection system operates on critical infrastructure, and it requires a precise time behavior on the communication between devices on both ends of a protected power line. Therefore, the communication has to fulfill deterministic constraints and low-delay requirements and additionally needs to be protected against cyber attacks. Existing systems are often either costly and based on deprecated technology or suffering from maloperations. In order to allow for both, economical and reliable operation, we present the first holistic communication concept capable of using state-of-the-art packet switched networks. Our solution consists of three parts: (i) we develop a list of design requirements for line current differential protection systems communication; (ii) we propose a communication concept obeying these design requirements by combining cryptographical and physical security approaches; and (iii) we evaluate our solution in a practical setup. Our evaluation shows a clock accuracy of 3 µs with a resilience to asymmetric delay attacks down to 8 ns/s. This demonstrates the secure and fault-free operation of a line current differential protection system communicating over a state-of-the-art network.

International Journal of Critical Infrastructure Protection