Malicious data attacks on the smart grid

Oliver Kosut, Liyan Jia, Robert J. Thomas, Lang Tong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

635 Scopus citations


Malicious attacks against power systems are investigated, in which an adversary controls a set of meters and is able to alter the measurements from those meters. Two regimes of attacks are considered. The strong attack regime is where the adversary attacks a sufficient number of meters so that the network state becomes unobservable by the control center. For attacks in this regime, the smallest set of attacked meters capable of causing network unobservability is characterized using a graph theoretic approach. By casting the problem as one of minimizing a supermodular graph functional, the problem of identifying the smallest set of vulnerable meters is shown to have polynomial complexity. For the weak attack regime where the adversary controls only a small number of meters, the problem is examined from a decision theoretic perspective for both the control center and the adversary. For the control center, a generalized likelihood ratio detector is proposed that incorporates historical data. For the adversary, the trade-off between maximizing estimation error at the control center and minimizing detection probability of the launched attack is examined. An optimal attack based on minimum energy leakage is proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6032057
Pages (from-to)645-658
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Smart Grid
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Bad data detection
  • false data attack
  • power network observability
  • power system state estimation
  • smart grid security

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Malicious data attacks on the smart grid'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this