Kenneth James

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Cyber Operations


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Kenneth M. Hopkinson, PhD


Cyber-physical systems are increasingly prevalent in daily life. Smart grids in particular are becoming more interconnected and autonomously operated. Despite the advantages, new challenges arise in the form of defending these assets. Recent studies reveal that small-scale, coordinated cyber-attacks on only a few substations across the U.S. could result in cascading failures affecting the entire nation. In support of defending critical infrastructure, this thesis tests the fault tolerance of a backup protection system. Each transmission line in the system incorporates autonomous agents which monitor the status of the line and make decisions regarding the safety of the grid. Various malfunctions that could occur from real-life attacks are simulated in the grid with the intent of determining its ability to successfully respond to faults despite adversity. The SPIN model checker is used to execute all combinations of fault location and malfunctions to determine which types can occur, and how many, before the system is unable to properly clear a fault. With results analyzed, the decision making process of the model is revised to increase its fault tolerance.

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DTIC Accession Number