The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded BAE Systems an $8.6 million contract to develop technology designed to quickly restore power to the U.S. electric grid after a catastrophic failure caused by a cyberattack, the company announced on Tuesday.
This is part of DARPA’s Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation, and Characterization Systems (RADICS) program, and the technology quickly isolates both enterprise IT and power infrastructure networks from all conduits of malicious attack.
The technology also establishes a Secure Emergency Network (SEN) among trusted organizations, enabling the coordination necessary to restore power to the complex electric grid.
Once activated, BAE Systems’ technology detects and disconnects unauthorized internal and external users from local networks within minutes, and creates a robust, hybrid network of data links secured by multiple layers of encryption and user authentication.
The systems rely on advances in network traffic control and analysis that will enable utilities to establish and maintain emergency communications. They also establish the SEN using advances in broadcast, satellite, and wireless technologies developed for agile communications in contested environments.
BAE Systems’ RADICS technology is designed to operate in the absence of prior coordination among affected organizations and regardless of power availability, Internet connectivity, disparate IT networks and grid infrastructure technology, situational awareness, and ongoing disruption efforts by adversaries, the company stated.
“Getting the power back on quickly after a cyberattack is critical to national defense,” said Victor Firoiu, senior principal engineer and manager of Communications and Networking at BAE Systems. “Given the scale and complexity of the U.S. power grid, and the chaos following a coordinated, large-scale attack, this is no easy task. Our work with DARPA is intended to stop ongoing attacks and minimize downtime.”