Krishna wins best paper by a young researcher at CRITIS 2015


Kim Gudeman, Coordinated Science Laboratory

Illinois graduate student Varun Badrinath Krishna won the CIPRNet Young CRITIS Award (CYCA) for his paper on smart meter security, which was co-authored by Ravishankar K Iyer and William H Sanders. The CYCA is sponsored by the European Commission's Critical Infrastructure Preparedness and Resilience Network (CIPRNet) and is presented every year at the International Conference on Critical Information Infrastructures Security (CRITIS). Krishna won the award at the 10th edition of the conference in Berlin, Germany.

Dr. Erich Rome (General Chair, CRITIS 2015), Varun Badrinath Krishna, and Dr. Bernhard M. Hammerli (Chair, CRITIS conference series)
Dr. Erich Rome (General Chair, CRITIS 2015), Varun Badrinath Krishna, and Dr. Bernhard M. Hammerli (Chair, CRITIS conference series)
 The paper, ARIMA-Based Modeling and Validation of Consumption Readings in Power Grids, evaluates the suitability of the Auto-Regressive Integrated Moving Average (ARIMA) model in forecasting short-term electricity consumption. The forecasts are used to identify anomalous consumption readings reported by smart meters. Such anomalies may indicate electricity theft, and the paper provides a way to validate readings to ensure that the smart meters are not being hacked to steal electricity.

The paper provides electric utilities with data validation techniques that can potentially mitigate electricity theft by 77 percent. This mitigation is quantified using a real dataset of smart meter readings obtained from Ireland’s Commission for Energy Regulation.

This work is related to an earlier paper, PCA-Based Method for Detecting Integrity Attacks on Advanced Metering Infrastructure, which won the Best Paper Award at QEST 2015, and is the second consecutive award for Krishna with Sanders, who is his graduate adviser and the ECE Department Head. 

For the CRITIS award, three finalists younger than the age of 32 were selected purely on the peer-review scores of their submitted papers, evaluated by the program committee members of the conference. That score, combined with an audience vote following the presentations at the conference determined the final winner.

“I got excellent feedback from ITI researchers during my practice presentations before attending the conference,” Krishna said. “This feedback came from my co-authors, Professor Iyer and Professor Sanders, as well as the research groups of Professor Sanders and Professor David Malcolm Nicol. So I would like to thank all of them for contributing to my winning presentation at CRITIS.”

The paper was based on research that was partially funded by a Siebel Energy Institute 2015 project, and the U.S. Department of Energy under the Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid (TCIPG) project.

In the future, Krishna would like to study autonomous cars, which are also vulnerable to attack.

“Security is never 100 percent foolproof, so there's always new applications,” he said.