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SoS and Resilience


Cyber-Physical Systems Project

Nashville, TN

20 March 2015

On March 17 and 18, 2015, researchers from the four System Science of SecUrity and REsilience for Cyber-Physical Systems (SURE) project universities (Vanderbilt, Hawai’i, California-Berkeley, and MIT) met with members of NSA’s R2 Directorate to review their first six months of work. SURE is the NSA-funded project aimed at improving scientific understanding of resiliency, that is, robustness to reliability failures or faults and survivability against security failures and attacks in cyber-physical systems (CPS). The project addresses the question of how to design systems that are resilient despite significant decentralization of resources and decision-making.

SURE Conference

Waseem Abbas and Xenofon Koutsoukos, Vanderbilt,
listen to comments about resilient sensor designs from
David Corman, National Science Foundation.

Initially looking at water distribution and surface traffic control architectures, air traffic control and satellite systems are added examples of the types of cyber-physical systems being examined. Xenofon Koutsoukos, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in the Institute for Software Integrated Systems (ISIS) at Vanderbilt University, the Principle Investigator (PI) for SURE, indicated the use of these additional cyber-physical systems is to demonstrate how the SURE methodologies can apply to multiple systems. Main research thrusts include hierarchical coordination and control, science of decentralized security, reliable and practical reasoning about secure computation and communication, evaluation and experimentation, and education and outreach. The centerpiece is their testbed for evaluation of CPS security and resilience.

The development of the Resilient Cyber-Physical Systems (RCPS) Testbed supports evaluation and experimentation across the complete SURE research portfolio. This platform is being used to capture the physical, computational and communication infrastructure; describes the deployment, configuration of security measures and algorithms; and provides entry points for injecting various attack or failure events. "Red Team" vs. "Blue Team" simulation scenarios are being developed. After the active design phase—when both teams are working in parallel and in isolation—the simulation is executed with no external user interaction, potentially several times. The winner is decided based on scoring weights and rules that are captured by the infrastructure model.  

             SURE Conference           

The Resilient Cyber-Physical System Testbed hardware component.

In addition to the testbed, ten research projects on resiliency were presented. These presentations covered both behavioral and technical subjects including adversarial risk, active learning for malware detection, privacy modeling, actor networks, flow networks, control systems, software and software architecture, and information flow policies. The CPS-VO web site, its scope and format was also briefed. Details of these research presentations are presented in a companion newsletter article.

In addition to Professor Koutsoukos, participants included his Vanderbilt colleagues Gabor Karsai, Janos Sztipanovits, Peter Volgyesi, Yevgeniy Vorobeychik and Katie Dey. Other participants were Saurabh Amin, MIT; Dusko Pavlovic, U. of Hawai'i; and Larry Rohrbough, Claire Tomlin, and Roy Dong from California-Berkeley. Government representatives from the National Science Foundation, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Air Force Research Labs also attended, as well as the sponsoring agency, NSA.

SURE Conference

Vanderbilt graduate students Pranav Srinivas Kumar (L) and William Emfinger
demonstrated the Resilient Cyber-Physical Systems Testbed.

(ID#: 15-5939)


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