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Assistant Professor of Computer Science Marco Levorato is part of a multidisciplinary team that aims to investigate the impact of cyberattacks on electricity distribution infrastructure. The team, led by Hamed Mohsenian-Rad of UC Riverside, includes researchers from UCI, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). Through their grant, “UC-Lab Center for Electricity Distribution Cybersecurity,” they will receive $3.75 million between now and February 2021. The grant was awarded as part of the UC Laboratory Fees Research Program, which aims to enhance partnerships between UC researchers and laboratory scientists at LLNL and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“My role in the project is the investigation of security vulnerabilities at the intersection between communication networks and the distribution system,” says Levorato. His group will focus on developing new modeling approaches that capture the interdependencies between these networks and systems.

The overall goal is to create new strategies for mitigating vulnerabilities, detecting intrusions and protecting against system-wide attacks. Technological advancements in the sensing, control and communication of electricity distribution systems have exposed this critical infrastructure to new vulnerabilities. The team will work to secure distributed energy resources, such as solar panels and energy storage devices, and electricity distribution networks, building a new knowledge base to address both theoretical and practical challenges in electricity distribution cybersecurity.

— Shani Murray