Autonomous Cyber Defense for Resilient Cyber-Physical Systems

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Virginia Tech


In this dissertation research, we design and analyze resilient cyber-physical systems (CPSs) under high network dynamics, adversarial attacks, and various uncertainties. We focus on three key system attributes to build resilient CPSs by developing a suite of the autonomous cyber defense mechanisms. First, we consider network adaptability to achieve the resilience of a CPS. Network adaptability represents the network ability to maintain its security and connectivity level when faced with incoming attacks. We address this by network topology adaptation. Network topology adaptation can contribute to quickly identifying and updating the network topology to confuse attacks by changing attack paths. We leverage deep reinforcement learning (DRL) to develop CPSs using network topology adaptation. Second, we consider the fault-tolerance of a CPS as another attribute to ensure system resilience. We aim to build a resilient CPS under severe resource constraints, adversarial attacks, and various uncertainties. We chose a solar sensor-based smart farm as one example of the CPS applications and develop a resource-aware monitoring system for the smart farms. We leverage DRL and uncertainty quantification using a belief theory, called Subjective Logic, to optimize critical tradeoffs between system performance and security under the contested CPS environments. Lastly, we study system resilience in terms of system recoverability. The system recoverability refers to the system's ability to recover from performance degradation or failure. In this task, we mainly focus on developing an automated intrusion response system (IRS) for CPSs. We aim to design the IRS with effective and efficient responses by reducing a false alarm rate and defense cost, respectively. Specifically, We build a lightweight IRS for an in-vehicle controller area network (CAN) bus system operating with DRL-based autonomous driving.



Cyber-physical systems, network resilience, network security, network adaptation, software diversity, deep reinforcement learning, fault-tolerance, recoverability, intrusion prevention, intrusion response