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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/M002802/1
Title: Communicating and evaluating cyber risk and dependencies
Principal Investigator: Bloomfield, Professor R
Other Investigators:
Bishop, Professor P Popov, Dr PT
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Adelard LLP Alstom Group
Department: Centre for Software Reliability
Organisation: City, University of London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 October 2014 Ends: 31 December 2017 Value (£): 402,738
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Fundamentals of Computing Statistics & Appl. Probability
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Technical Consultancy Energy
Transport Systems and Vehicles Water
Aerospace, Defence and Marine Communications
Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
23 Jun 2014 TICS Research Institute Phase 2 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Industrial computer-based control systems are crucial to society, they control the water we drink, the power we use, the cars we drive as well as railways and air transportation. These systems need to be trusted and trustworthy. They are often networked into complex and interconnected systems of systems and control and protect the UK national infrastructure.

An important aspect of infrastructures is their interactions and interdependencies: the functioning of one infrastructures service often depends on the functioning of another. As the infrastructure becomes layered and there are secondary services layered on top of these primary infrastructures and as the network becomes dynamic and controlled by computer networks and systems there is considerable potential for unforeseen interaction and dependencies.

As Industrial control systems become more networked, the previous strategy of making them secure by isolating them from the world becomes ineffective. In addition those who might harm the system either out of maliciousness or misplaced curiosity proliferate and their expertise increases, so the importance of security for the availability and integrity of services and systems is becoming ever more significant.

The research focuses on the importance of dependencies and interdependencies in this security context. These have been studied for a number of years and it is known that unforeseen interdependencies are a source of threat to systems and an important factor in our uncertainty of risk assessment, particularly risk due to cascade failures in which the rate and size of loss is amplified.

However there two faces to interdependencies, while we are concerned about how they might make attacking the system easier and a source of unforeseen behaviours, it is also central to providing tolerance to attack and failure. Redundancy, diversity, defence in depth are deliberately engineered into control systems to increase dependability and are an important mechanism for adaptation and overall resilience.

Any risk assessment of computer based control systems has to take into account uncertainty about the structure of the system. It is not just the uncertainty of when events might happen but uncertainty about the world, so-called epistemic uncertainty. For example, audits for the US DHS states that they find, on average, 11 unexpected connections between the SCADA system and the enterprise network for each audit

A key part of risk assessment is communication to stakeholders and society as appropriate. We will develop a security informed (or cyber-informed) enhancement to evaluating and communicating business and other risks from lack of control system integrity and availability based on a claims, arguments, evidence (CAE) framework. Our focus will be to include cyber informed dependency analysis within these assessments. The research to do this will follow an impact driven, threat-informed and vulnerability-focused strategy.

We will also develop probabilistic models that address explicitly the evolving relationship between an adversary and attacks on the one hand and of the consequences of a successful attack as well as the dependencies between the mitigations and barriers. We are particularly interested in modelling and evaluating defence in depth as a fundamental part of any resilient and trustworthy system yet estimating its effectiveness given uncertainties in the system structure and the attack space is enormously difficult. We will develop a modelling toolset based on existing tools we have developed within EU, Artemis and TSB projects that integrate stochastic and deterministic (e.g. of power flow). We will conduct case studies based on problems provided by our project partners Adelard (a specialist SME that evaluates ICS systems and components) and Alsthom.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.city.ac.uk