The Kindi Center for Computing Research (Kindi) at Qatar University College of Engineering (QU-CENG) won a $1.82mn grant from Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (Tubitak) for a 3-year project to build a platform to enhance the cybersecurity of smart grid distribution networks.

Only two projects out of thirteen were awarded this first ever grant. The project will detect and mitigate cyberattacks on the electricity distribution network based on new technologies stemming from machine learning and artificial intelligence.

It aims to facilitate the management of electricity distribution networks from the cybersecurity perspective, which will strengthen the capabilities of Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (Kahramaa) to mitigate cyberattacks.

This will contribute more generally to the security of Qatar and the well-being of its citizens. The protection of the critical infrastructure is fundamental given the importance of electricity for daily life in modern societies.

To achieve this project, Kindi will collaborate with Kahramaa and Iberdrola Qatar, as well as Turkish partners from academia and industry.

CENG dean Dr Khalifa al-Khalifa said: “This grant comes within the framework of the partnerships of Kindi to expand collaboration with various international entities in the cybersecurity area. CENG has recently signed MoUs with Tubitak and the Malaysian Center for Cybersecurity to develop co-operation in this field.”

Kindi director Dr Noora Fetais said: “The latest MoUs signed with Tubitak and Cybersecurity Malaysia are a great support to Kindi research in artificial intelligence for cybersecurity at a time when the world is facing various challenges in this area at the governmental, institutional and individual levels. This project will bolster relations between academia and public and private sectors, to enhance local research capabilities and build capacity.”

Kindi assistant research professor and lead principal investigator of the project Dr Abdullatif Shikfa said: “Cybersecurity is one of the most prominent challenges of the digital age, an actual and critical threat for the energy sector. This project focuses on the electricity distribution network in Qatar and Turkey. The Qatari-Turkish co-operation between universities, research centres and electricity management and distribution companies in the two countries will lead to pragmatic and effective solutions and innovations to enhance substation cybersecurity in Qatar and Turkey.”