Protecting our energy infrastructure

New analysis targets cybersafety

Using a new, holistic approach called cybersafety, an MIT team has shown that today’s energy systems are rife with vulnerabilities to cyberattack—often the result of increased complexity due to high interconnectivity between devices and greater use of software to control system operation. The methodology examines a spectrum of factors that influence system operation, from physical design to operator behavior to organizational and managerial actions, and then determines how interactions among those factors can affect system safety. The resulting analysis can point to specific steps a company can take to strengthen the cybersecurity of its facilities. In the past decade, cyberattacks on physical systems have demonstrated that traditional IT security measures are largely impotent in protecting critical infrastructure from advanced cyber adversaries. The researchers therefore stress the urgent need to identify and mitigate cyber vulnerabilities, as future cyberattacks could cause unimaginable disruptions such as interrupting the flow of fuels or shutting down the US electric grid.



Stuart Madnick Professor

Sloan School of Management

Research Team

Shaharyar Khan Research Assistant Sloan School of Management