Visible to the public Biblio

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Abbas, W., Koutsoukos, X..  2015.  Efficient Complete Coverage Through Heterogeneous Sensing Nodes. Wireless Communications Letters, IEEE. 4:14-17.

We investigate the coverage efficiency of a sensor network consisting of sensors with circular sensing footprints of different radii. The objective is to completely cover a region in an efficient manner through a controlled (or deterministic) deployment of such sensors. In particular, it is shown that when sensing nodes of two different radii are used for complete coverage, the coverage density is increased, and the sensing cost is significantly reduced as compared to the homogeneous case, in which all nodes have the same sensing radius. Configurations of heterogeneous disks of multiple radii to achieve efficient circle coverings are presented and analyzed.

Hasan, S., Ghafouri, A., Dubey, A., Karsai, G., Koutsoukos, X..  2017.  Heuristics-based approach for identifying critical N \#x2014; k contingencies in power systems. 2017 Resilience Week (RWS). :191–197.

Reliable operation of electrical power systems in the presence of multiple critical N - k contingencies is an important challenge for the system operators. Identifying all the possible N - k critical contingencies to design effective mitigation strategies is computationally infeasible due to the combinatorial explosion of the search space. This paper describes two heuristic algorithms based on the iterative pruning of the candidate contingency set to effectively and efficiently identify all the critical N - k contingencies resulting in system failure. These algorithms are applied to the standard IEEE-14 bus system, IEEE-39 bus system, and IEEE-57 bus system to identify multiple critical N - k contingencies. The algorithms are able to capture all the possible critical N - k contingencies (where 1 ≤ k ≤ 9) without missing any dangerous contingency.

Abbas, W., Laszka, A., Vorobeychik, Y., Koutsoukos, X..  2017.  Improving network connectivity using trusted nodes and edges. 2017 American Control Conference (ACC). :328–333.

Network connectivity is a primary attribute and a characteristic phenomenon of any networked system. A high connectivity is often desired within networks; for instance to increase robustness to failures, and resilience against attacks. A typical approach to increasing network connectivity is to strategically add links; however adding links is not always the most suitable option. In this paper, we propose an alternative approach to improving network connectivity, that is by making a small subset of nodes and edges “trusted,” which means that such nodes and edges remain intact at all times and are insusceptible to failures. We then show that by controlling the number of trusted nodes and edges, any desired level of network connectivity can be obtained. Along with characterizing network connectivity with trusted nodes and edges, we present heuristics to compute a small number of such nodes and edges. Finally, we illustrate our results on various networks.

Laszka, A., Abbas, W., Vorobeychik, Y., Koutsoukos, X..  2018.  Synergistic Security for the Industrial Internet of Things: Integrating Redundancy, Diversity, and Hardening. 2018 IEEE International Conference on Industrial Internet (ICII). :153–158.
As the Industrial Internet of Things (IIot) becomes more prevalent in critical application domains, ensuring security and resilience in the face of cyber-attacks is becoming an issue of paramount importance. Cyber-attacks against critical infrastructures, for example, against smart water-distribution and transportation systems, pose serious threats to public health and safety. Owing to the severity of these threats, a variety of security techniques are available. However, no single technique can address the whole spectrum of cyber-attacks that may be launched by a determined and resourceful attacker. In light of this, we consider a multi-pronged approach for designing secure and resilient IIoT systems, which integrates redundancy, diversity, and hardening techniques. We introduce a framework for quantifying cyber-security risks and optimizing IIoT design by determining security investments in redundancy, diversity, and hardening. To demonstrate the applicability of our framework, we present a case study in water-distribution systems. Our numerical evaluation shows that integrating redundancy, diversity, and hardening can lead to reduced security risk at the same cost.
Hasan, S., Ghafouri, A., Dubey, A., Karsai, G., Koutsoukos, X..  2018.  Vulnerability analysis of power systems based on cyber-attack and defense models. 2018 IEEE Power Energy Society Innovative Smart Grid Technologies Conference (ISGT). :1–5.

Reliable operation of power systems is a primary challenge for the system operators. With the advancement in technology and grid automation, power systems are becoming more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The main goal of adversaries is to take advantage of these vulnerabilities and destabilize the system. This paper describes a game-theoretic approach to attacker / defender modeling in power systems. In our models, the attacker can strategically identify the subset of substations that maximize damage when compromised. However, the defender can identify the critical subset of substations to protect in order to minimize the damage when an attacker launches a cyber-attack. The algorithms for these models are applied to the standard IEEE-14, 39, and 57 bus examples to identify the critical set of substations given an attacker and a defender budget.

Zhan, Z., Zhang, Z., Koutsoukos, X..  2020.  BitJabber: The World’s Fastest Electromagnetic Covert Channel. 2020 IEEE International Symposium on Hardware Oriented Security and Trust (HOST). :35—45.

An air-gapped computer is physically isolated from unsecured networks to guarantee effective protection against data exfiltration. Due to air gaps, unauthorized data transfer seems impossible over legitimate communication channels, but in reality many so-called physical covert channels can be constructed to allow data exfiltration across the air gaps. Most of such covert channels are very slow and often require certain strict conditions to work (e.g., no physical obstacles between the sender and the receiver). In this paper, we introduce a new physical covert channel named BitJabber that is extremely fast and strong enough to even penetrate concrete walls. We show that this covert channel can be easily created by an unprivileged sender running on a victim’s computer. Specifically, the sender constructs the channel by using only memory accesses to modulate the electromagnetic (EM) signals generated by the DRAM clock. While possessing a very high bandwidth (up to 300,000 bps), this new covert channel is also very reliable (less than 1% error rate). More importantly, this covert channel can enable data exfiltration from an air-gapped computer enclosed in a room with thick concrete walls up to 15 cm.