A Cyber-Physical System Testbed for Security Experimentation

A Cyber-Physical System Testbed for Security Experimentation

John Hale (University of Tulsa, USA), Abraham Habib (University of Tulsa, USA), Rujit Raval (University of Tulsa, USA), Ryan Irvin (University of Tulsa, USA) and Peter J. Hawrylak (The University of Tulsa, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2910-2.ch009


Cyber-Physical Systems (CPSs) are systems which integrate computational, networking, and physical components within a single functional environment. They play an important role in critical infrastructure, government, and everyday life. CPSs encumber many requirements, such as robustness, safety and security, Quality of Service (QoS), and trust. In addition, CPSs combine a variety of digital and analog technologies. Consequently, their analysis, verification, and control can be challenging. The science of protecting CPSs from blended attacks, those combining cyber and physical attack vectors, is yet to be developed. A much-needed tool on this front is a suitable test environment in which to pursue lines of experimentation and exploration. This chapter describes a testbed that allows researchers to experiment on blended attack and defense scenarios in CPSs through gamification. The testbed features many different systems, both cyber and physical, that are fully instrumented for data analysis and assessment.
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One of the most significant advances in the development of computer science, information, and communication technologies is represented by the emergence of CPSs. CPSs are systems that link the physical world through sensors or actuators with the virtual world of information processing. They are composed from diverse constituent parts that collaborate to create some global behavior in the control of physical processes. These constituents include software systems, communications technology, and sensors/actuators that interact with the real world, often including embedded technologies.

CPSs are far more common in today’s age then they were a quarter of a century ago. They are no longer limited to enterprise control systems but can now be found in day to day use by an average consumer. A few examples are cars, home alarm systems, building security systems, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and more; even a connected coffee machine is a CPS. With the widespread adoption of internet connected CPSs (many with blatant flaws) security is more prevalent now than ever before.

To advance the state of the art in this field, researchers have developed CPS testbeds for experimentation. With these physical and virtual testbeds, researchers can now conduct investigations with real and simulated hardware, systematically exploring attack vectors and defense strategies.

Key Terms in this Chapter

OpenCV: A library of programming functions mainly aimed at real-time computer vision.

Competitive Learning Platform: A platform in computer science that gives participants the opportunity to explore and experience different challenging scenarios for education and training.

Stepper Motor: A stepper motor is an electric motor that divides a full rotation into a number of equal ‘steps’. The motor can then be controlled to precisely turn a certain amount of steps.

Teensy: The Teensy is a complete USB-based microcontroller development system, in a very small footprint, capable of implementing many types of projects.

Testbed: Any facility or means for testing something in development.

Domain: A sphere of knowledge, influence, or activity.

Instrumentation: The use or application of instruments (as for observation, measurement, or control).

Cyber Physical System (CPS): A system which integrates computational, networking, and physical components within a single functional environment.

Beaglebone: A low-power open-source single-board computer produced by Texas Instruments designed with open source software development in mind.

Audit Daemon (Audit.d): Audit.d is a linux subsystem that can do access control monitoring and auditing. It is able to monitor and log any aspect of the linux system is running on.

Gamification: The process of adding games or game-like elements to something to encourage user testing participation.

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