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COCOON: An Innovation Action project to address cybersecurity challenges in modern power systems

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The KIOS Research and Innovation Center of Excellence at the University of Cyprus is coordinating for the first time the EU Horizon Innovation Action (IA) research project entitled COCOON: COoperative Cyber PrOtection for MOderN Power Grids. COCOON aims to deliver a cyber-physical systems solution to address cybersecurity and resilience challenges in interconnected Electrical Power and Energy Systems (EPES) in Europe.

The European energy infrastructure, integrating Distributed Renewable Energy Sources, moves into a decentralized and digitalized energy system to meet climate targets. At the same time, interconnection and digitalization make EPES more vulnerable to cybersecurity incidents and attacks which in turn can cause catastrophic social and economic consequences. A recent example is the war in Ukraine, during which multiple cyberattacks by Russia caused disruptions of services and operations of critical infrastructure sectors such as EPES, thus affecting civilian population. These incidents underscored the need for improving European resilience to cyberattacks, to safeguard our interconnection and data, as well as keep societies and economies safe and secure.

The COCOON project will address the above challenges by delivering a unified protection scheme for interconnected EPES in Europe and will be the first to implement the stringent requirements of the newly formed network code for cybersecurity enforced by the EU (ACER NCC). Thus, pioneering towards the practical instrumentation of cyber-protection in modern EPES. The outcomes will be tested and evaluated through demonstrations in real pilot of operational setups in Greece, Spain, and the Netherlands. Through COCOON, cyber protection in power systems should a) function optimally and securely, b) natively provide inter-domain secure information exchange, c) address real-time power systems requirements for timely cyber-physical threat detection and mitigation, and d) enhance operator training for grid protection operations.

It is anticipated that the project’s outcomes will contribute towards prevention and detection of cyberattacks in the energy sector. As a result, there will be a decrease in loss caused by black-outs and cascading failures in interconnected grid setups and at the same time an increase of assurance for utility availability to citizens.

The COCOON prototype is targeted to reach Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 7, thus paving a path towards a pragmatic solution meeting industrial and EU-wide regulatory needs for cyber protection. The KIOS research team will be responsible and steer the development of cybersecurity algorithms and the COCOON prototype’s software development process respectively.

The COCOON consortium consists of 12 partners from 4 European countries and the UK, with expertise in networked systems, power systems engineering, cybersecurity, cyber-physical security, and grid operations. Hence, partners include 5 academic institutions, 3 European Distribution System Operators, 1 EU Regional Security Coordinator, the European Network for Cyber Security owned by several EU grid operators, and 2 SMEs.

The KIOS CoE research team at the University of Cyprus participating in this project is led by Assistant Professor Angelos K. Marnerides.

Project’s website:

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101120221

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