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PhD Student Abdelrahman Eldosouky successfully defends his PhD

PhD Student Abdelrahman Eldosouky successfully defends his dissertation entitled "Security of Critical Cyber-Physical Systems: Fundamentals and Optimization".


Cyber-physical systems (CPSs) are systems that integrate physical elements with a cyber layer that enables sensing, monitoring, and processing the data from the physical components. Examples of CPSs include autonomous vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), smart grids, and the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular, many critical infrastructure (CI) that are vital to our modern day cities and communities, are CPSs. This wide range of CPSs domains represents a cornerstone of smart cities in which various CPSs are connected to provide efficient services. However, this level of connectivity has brought forward new security challenges and has left CPSs vulnerable to many cyber-physical attacks and disruptive events that can utilize the cyber layer to cause damage to both cyber and physical components. Addressing these security and operation challenges requires developing new security solutions to prevent and mitigate the effects of cyber and physical attacks as well as improving the CPSs response in face of disruptive events, which is known as the CPS resilience.
To this end, the primary goal of this dissertation is to develop novel analytical tools that can be used to study, analyze, and optimize the resilience and security of critical CPSs. In particular, this dissertation presents a number of key contributions that pertain to the security and the resilience of multiple CPSs that include power systems, the Internet of Things (IoT), UAVs, and transportation networks. First, a mathematical framework is proposed to analyze and mitigate the effects of GPS spoofing attacks against UAVs. The proposed framework uses system dynamics to model the optimal routes which UAVs can follow in normal operations and under GPS spoofing attacks. A countermeasure mechanism, built on the premise of cooperative localization, is then developed to mitigate the effects of these GPS spoofing attacks. To practically deploy the proposed defense mechanism, a dynamic Stackelberg game is formulated to model the interactions between a GPS spoofer and a drone operator. The equilibrium strategies of the game are analytically characterized and studied through a novel, computationally efficient algorithm. Simulation results show that, when combined with the Stackelberg strategies, the proposed defense mechanism will outperform baseline strategy selection techniques in terms of reducing the possibility of UAV capture. Next, a game-theoretic framework is developed to model a novel moving target defense (MTD) mechanism that enables CPSs to randomize their configurations to proactive deter impending attacks. By adopting an MTD approach, a CPS can enhance its security against potential attacks by increasing the uncertainty on the attacker. The equilibrium of the developed single-controller, stochastic MTD game is then analyzed. Simulation results show that the proposed framework can significantly improve the overall utility of the defender. Third, the concept of MTD is coupled with new cryptographic algorithms for enhancing the security of an mHealth Internet of Things (IoT) system. In particular, using a combination of theory and implementation, a framework is introduced to enable the IoT devices to update their cryptographic keys locally to eliminate the risk of being revealed while they are shared.
Considering the resilience of CPSs, a novel framework for analyzing the component- and systemlevel resilience of CIs is proposed. This framework brings together new ideas from Bayesian networks and contract theory – a Nobel prize winning theory – to define a concrete system-level resilience index for CIs and to optimize the allocation of resources, such as redundant components, monitoring devices, or UAVs to help those CIs improve their resilience. In particular, the developed resilience index is able to account for the effect of CI components on the its probability of failure. Meanwhile, using contract theory, a comprehensive resource allocation framework is proposed enabling the system operator to optimally allocate resources to each individual CI based on its economic contribution to the entire system. Simulation results show that the system operator can economically benefit from allocating the resources while dams can have a significant improvement in their resilience indices. Subsequently, the developed contract-theoretic framework is extended to account for cases of asymmetric information in which the system operator has only partial information about the CIs being in some vulnerability and criticality levels. Under such asymmetry, it is shown that the proposed approach maximizes the system operator’s utility while ensuring that no CI has an incentive to ask for another contract. Next, a proof-of-concept framework is introduced to analyze and improve the resilience of transportation networks against flooding. The effect of flooding on road capacities and on the free-flow travel time, is considered for different rain intensities and roads preparedness. Meanwhile, the total system’s travel time before and after flooding is evaluated using the concept of a Wardrop equilibrium. To this end, a proactive mechanism is developed to reduce the system’s travel time, after flooding, by shifting capacities (available lanes) between same road sides. In a nutshell, this dissertation provides a suite of analytical techniques that allow the optimization of security and resilience across multiple CPSs.