Cyber attack analysis on cyber-physical systems: Detectability, severity, and attenuation strategy

Cheolhyeon Kwon, Purdue University


Security of Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) against malicious cyber attacks is an important yet challenging problem. Since most cyber attacks happen in erratic ways, it is usually intractable to describe and diagnose them systematically. Motivated by such difficulties, this thesis presents a set of theories and algorithms for a cyber-secure architecture of the CPS within the control theoretic perspective. Here, instead of identifying a specific cyber attack model, we are focused on analyzing the system's response during cyber attacks. Firstly, we investigate the detectability of the cyber attacks from the system's behavior under cyber attacks. Specifically, we conduct a study on the vulnerabilities in the CPS's monitoring system against the stealthy cyber attack that is carefully designed to avoid being detected by its detection scheme. After classifying three kinds of cyber attacks according to the attacker's ability to compromise the system, we derive the necessary and sufficient conditions under which such stealthy cyber attacks can be designed to cause the unbounded estimation error while not being detected. Then, the analytical design method of the optimal stealthy cyber attack that maximizes the estimation error is developed. The proposed stealthy cyber attack analysis is demonstrated with illustrative examples on Air Traffic Control (ATC) system and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) navigation system applications. Secondly, in an attempt to study the CPSs' vulnerabilities in more detail, we further discuss a methodology to identify potential cyber threats inherent in the given CPSs and quantify the attack severity accordingly. We then develop an analytical algorithm to test the behavior of the CPS under various cyber attack combinations. Compared to a numerical approach, the analytical algorithm enables the prediction of the most effective cyber attack combinations without computing the severity of all possible attack combinations, thereby greatly reducing the computational cost. The proposed algorithm is validated through a linearized longitudinal motion of a UAV example. Finally, we propose an attack attenuation strategy via the controller design for CPSs that are robust to various types of cyber attacks. While the previous studies have investigated a secure control by assuming a specific attack strategy, in this research we propose a hybrid robust control scheme that contains multiple sub-controllers, each matched to a specific type of cyber attacks. Then the system can be adapted to various cyber attacks (including those that are not assumed for sub-controller design) by switching its sub-controllers to achieve the best performance. Then, a method for designing a secure switching logic to counter all possible cyber attacks is proposed and it verifies mathematically the system's performance and stability as well. The performance of the proposed control scheme is demonstrated by an example with the hybrid H2 - H-infinity controller applied to a UAV example.




Hwang, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Aerospace engineering

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