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Strategic Security Sciences

Operation Power Play

Creating hands-on exercises for stakeholders that depict repercussions on potential cyberattacks to infrastructures and entities

Did You Know?

Operational-based, hands-on exercises assist key stakeholders in identifying potential low-probability but high-impact risk scenarios that could directly impact multiple entities. These scenarios include various physical and cyber threats, which have the potential to affect multiple sectors including energy, transportation, communications, and water. By providing an environment for cross-discipline and jurisdictional entities to discuss these risk scenarios, gaps and resources can be identified prior to a real incident. Operation Power Play, led by ComEd, with the assistance of Argonne National Laboratory, set forth these objectives for an Illinois statewide exercise.


In order to prepare for potential disasters affecting a wide array of entities and services, an intricate training exercise can be conducted to allow stakeholders to develop proactive response capabilities in a realistic manner. ComEd’s Operation Power Play is one such exercise. For the 2019 exercise, a unique cyber scenario was integrated into Operation Power Play. This cyber scenario was available for participants to respond to during the statewide exercise. Specific cybersecurity areas that the scenario targeted were SCADA systems, services, and electronic systems restoration.


Through collaborative efforts, members from the cybersecurity teams within Argonne’s Strategic Security Sciences Division worked closely with ComEd in the planning and development of the cyber scenario for the 2019 Operation Power Play exercise. A cyberattack would be triggered following devastating storms, as latent malware activates as connections to command and control servers become inoperable following internet outages. This then leads to integrity-based malware. This attack directly influences the integrity of data for utility companies and private sector partners during the restoration of their normal operations.