University of Cyprus: COCOON: Innovative project to address cybersecurity challenges in modern power systems

The Centre of Excellence for Research and Innovation “KIOS CoE” of the University of Cyprus coordinates for the first time the European Innovation Action type project funded by Horizon Europe, COCOON: COoperative Cyber PrOtection for mOderN Power Grids. COCOON aims to create a prototype system to address cybersecurity challenges and improve the resilience of large connected power grids in Europe.

Europe’s energy system, by integrating Renewable Energy Sources, is beginning to transform into a decentralised and digitalised system, to achieve climate and energy goals. At the same time, interconnection and digitalisation are making it more vulnerable to cyber security incidents, which in turn can have devastating economic and social consequences. A recent example is the war in Ukraine, during which there were several incidents of cyber-attacks by Russia, which disrupted the operation and service delivery of critical infrastructure systems such as energy networks, with repeated impacts on citizens. These incidents have demonstrated the need to strengthen the protection and resilience of Europe’s critical infrastructure against cyber-attacks, to ensure the interconnection of systems and data, and to protect the economy and society.

To address the above challenges, the COCOON project will develop a pioneering protection system for large connected energy networks in Europe, implementing for the first time the requirements of the newly developed network code for cybersecurity promoted by the EU (EU ACER NCCS). The results will be tested and evaluated on real infrastructures in Greece, Spain and the Netherlands. Through the project, cyber protection in energy systems will enable: a) optimal and secure operation of energy systems; b) provide secure information exchange between operators of different energy systems; c) early detection of cyber threats supporting the orchestration of energy infrastructure; and d) enhance operator training for energy grid protection functions.

The results of the project will contribute to the prevention and detection of cybersecurity incidents in the energy sector. It is therefore expected that there will be a reduction in losses caused by power outages and failures in connected network facilities and at the same time ensure the availability of utility services to citizens.

The COCOON prototype system will reach Technological Readiness Level (TRL) 7, paving the way towards a realistic solution that meets industry, regulatory and legal needs to protect energy infrastructure from cyber-attacks. The research team of the Coos Centre of Excellence will be responsible for and lead work packages aimed at developing cybersecurity algorithms using machine learning techniques and developing COCOON’s prototype software respectively.

The COCOON project consortium consists of 12 partners, from 4 European countries and the UK, with expertise and knowledge in networking, power systems engineering, cybersecurity, and programmable information networks. These include five academic institutions, three European Distribution System Operators, one EU Regional Security Coordinator, the European Cybersecurity Network, and two SMEs.

The research team from the University of Cyprus participating in the project is led by Assistant Professor Angelos. K. Marneridis.

Source: University of Cyprus | Latest News (