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Poornachandran, P., Sreeram, R., Krishnan, M. R., Pal, S., Sankar, A. U. P., Ashok, A..  2015.  Internet of Vulnerable Things (IoVT): Detecting Vulnerable SOHO Routers. 2015 International Conference on Information Technology (ICIT). :119–123.

There has been a rampant surge in compromise of consumer grade small scale routers in the last couple of years. Attackers are able to manipulate the Domain Name Space (DNS) settings of these devices hence making them capable of initiating different man-in-the-middle attacks. By this study we aim to explore and comprehend the current state of these attacks. Focusing on the Indian Autonomous System Number (ASN) space, we performed scans over 3 months to successfully find vulnerable routers and extracted the DNS information from these vulnerable routers. In this paper we present the methodology followed for scanning, a detailed analysis report of the information we were able to collect and an insight into the current trends in the attack patterns. We conclude by proposing recommendations for mitigating these attacks.

Ashok, A., Krishnaswamy, S., Govindarasu, M..  2016.  PowerCyber: A remotely accessible testbed for Cyber Physical security of the Smart Grid. 2016 IEEE Power Energy Society Innovative Smart Grid Technologies Conference (ISGT). :1–5.

Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) security testbeds serve as a platform for evaluating and validating novel CPS security tools and technologies, accelerating the transition of state-of-the-art research to industrial practice. The engineering of CPS security testbeds requires significant investments in money, time and modeling efforts to provide a scalable, high-fidelity, real-time attack-defense platform. Therefore, there is a strong need in academia and industry to create remotely accessible testbeds that support a range of use-cases pertaining to CPS security of the grid, including vulnerability assessments, impact analysis, product testing, attack-defense exercises, and operator training. This paper describes the implementation architecture, and capabilities of a remote access and experimental orchestration framework developed for the PowerCyber CPS security testbed at Iowa State University (ISU). The paper then describes several engineering challenges in the development of such remotely accessible testbeds for Smart Grid CPS security experimentation. Finally, the paper provides a brief case study with some screenshots showing a particular use case scenario on the remote access framework.

Pappa, A. C., Ashok, A., Govindarasu, M..  2017.  Moving target defense for securing smart grid communications: Architecture, implementation evaluation. 2017 IEEE Power Energy Society Innovative Smart Grid Technologies Conference (ISGT). :1–5.

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition(SCADA) communications are often subjected to various sophisticated cyber-attacks mostly because of their static system characteristics, enabling an attacker for easier profiling of the target system(s) and thereby impacting the Critical Infrastructures(CI). In this Paper, a novel approach to mitigate such static vulnerabilities is proposed by implementing a Moving Target Defense (MTD) strategy in a power grid SCADA environment, leveraging the existing communication network with an end-to-end IP-Hopping technique among trusted peers. The main contribution involves the design and implementation of MTD Architecture on Iowa State's PowerCyber testbed for targeted cyber-attacks, without compromising the availability of a SCADA system and studying the delay and throughput characteristics for different hopping rates in a realistic environment. Finally, we study two cases and provide mitigations for potential weaknesses of the proposed mechanism. Also, we propose to incorporate port mutation to further increase attack complexity as part of future work.

Ashok, A., Sridhar, S., McKinnon, A. D., Wang, P., Govindarasu, M..  2016.  Testbed-based performance evaluation of Attack Resilient Control for AGC. 2016 Resilience Week (RWS). :125–129.

The modern electric power grid is a complex cyber-physical system whose reliable operation is enabled by a wide-area monitoring and control infrastructure. Recent events have shown that vulnerabilities in this infrastructure may be exploited to manipulate the data being exchanged. Such a scenario could cause the associated control applications to mis-operate, potentially causing system-wide instabilities. There is a growing emphasis on looking beyond traditional cybersecurity solutions to mitigate such threats. In this paper we perform a testbed-based validation of one such solution - Attack Resilient Control (ARC) - on Iowa State University's PowerCyber testbed. ARC is a cyber-physical security solution that combines domain-specific anomaly detection and model-based mitigation to detect stealthy attacks on Automatic Generation Control (AGC). In this paper, we first describe the implementation architecture of the experiment on the testbed. Next, we demonstrate the capability of stealthy attack templates to cause forced under-frequency load shedding in a 3-area test system. We then validate the performance of ARC by measuring its ability to detect and mitigate these attacks. Our results reveal that ARC is efficient in detecting stealthy attacks and enables AGC to maintain system operating frequency close to its nominal value during an attack. Our studies also highlight the importance of testbed-based experimentation for evaluating the performance of cyber-physical security and control applications.

Ashok, A., Sridhar, S., Rice, M., Smith, J..  2017.  Substation Monitoring to Enhance Situational Awareness \#x2014; Challenges and Opportunities. 2017 IEEE Power Energy Society Innovative Smart Grid Technologies Conference (ISGT). :1–5.

Situational awareness during sophisticated cyber attacks on the power grid is critical for the system operator to perform suitable attack response and recovery functions to ensure grid reliability. The overall theme of this paper is to identify existing practical issues and challenges that utilities face while monitoring substations, and to suggest potential approaches to enhance the situational awareness for the grid operators. In this paper, we provide a broad discussion about the various gaps that exist in the utility industry today in monitoring substations, and how those gaps could be addressed by identifying the various data sources and monitoring tools to improve situational awareness. The paper also briefly describes the advantages of contextualizing and correlating substation monitoring alerts using expert systems at the control center to obtain a holistic systems-level view of potentially malicious cyber activity at the substations before they cause impacts to grid operation.