1 November 2021

A privacy-aware reconfigurable authenticated key exchange scheme for secure communication in smart grids

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Prosanta Gope

Biplab Sikdar (National University of Singapore)

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Why is this paper important?

Information and communication technologies (ICT) are one of the underpinning platforms of smart grids, facilitating efficient grid management and operation, optimisation of resource utilisation, as well as enabling new products, features, and services. However, this interconnection of grid technology with ICT leads to various security challenges in the power grid. One such concern is the tampering of usage data from smart meters which may result not only in incorrect billing, but also in incorrect decisions related to demand and supply management. In addition to network based cyber-attacks, smart meters are also susceptible to physical attacks since they are installed in customer premises without hardware protection mechanisms. This paper presents a reconfigurable authenticated-key exchange (AKE) scheme for securing the smart metering network in the smart grid environments. One of the notable properties of the proposed scheme is that, apart from the physical security of the smart meter, it can also ensure resilience against modelling or machine learning attacks, which is imperative for any authentication scheme.

How did you do the research?

This study is the result of a fruitful collaboration amongst the University of Sheffield, and the National University of Singapore. The research was conducted by linking advanced computational insights with experimental-based approaches. A rigorous formal security analysis of our proposed scheme was conducted to show that it is secure against some of the important security threats, which are greatly important for ensuring secure communication in smart-grid.

What impact will this paper have?

This article provides a new concept called re-configurable security for smart-metering infrastructure, where the embedded hardware of a smart meter is re-configured after each round of the authentication process. This feature of the proposed scheme can resist an attacker to gain any insight into the behaviour of the embedded hardware. In this regard, it is assumed that the outcome of the reconfiguring mechanism is uncontrollable and difficult to revert, even with invasive means. Output of our research will provide a new direction to the security research community of smart grid. Nevertheless, the research output of this article can also be applied in various IoT-applications such as industrial IoT.   

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