IEEE Systems Journal, vol. 12, issue 2, IEEE, pp. 1778-1792, 06/2018. DOI (I.F.: 4.463)
Current Critical Infrastructures (CIs) are complex interconnected industrial systems that, in recent years, have incorporated information and communications technologies such as connection to the Internet and commercial off-the-shelf components. This makes them easier to operate and maintain, but exposes them to the threats and attacks that inundate conventional networks and systems. This paper contains a comprehensive study on the main stealth attacks that threaten CIs, with a special focus on Critical Information Infrastructures (CIIs). This type of attack is characterized by an adversary who is able to finely tune his actions to avoid detection while pursuing his objectives. To provide a complete analysis of the scope and potential dangers of stealth attacks we determine and analyze their stages and range, and we design a taxonomy to illustrate the threats to CIs, offering an overview of the applicable countermeasures against these attacks. From our analysis we understand that these types of attacks, due to the interdependent nature of CIs, pose a grave danger to critical systems where the threats can easily cascade down to the interconnected systems.
Computers & Security, vol. 71, Elsevier, pp. 2-14, 11/2017. DOI (I.F.: 2.650)
Secure interconnection between multiple cyber-physical systems has become a fundamental requirement in many critical infrastructures, where security may be centralized in a few nodes of the system. These nodes could, for example, have the mission of addressing the authorization services required for access in highlyrestricted remote substations. For this reason, the main aim of this paper is to unify all these features, together with the resilience measures so as to provide control at all times under a limited access in the field and avoid congestion. Concretely, we present here an optimal reachability-based restoration approach, capable of restoring the structural control in linear times taking into account: structural controllability, the supernode theory, the good practices of the IEC-62351 standard and the contextual conditions. For context management, a new attribute is specified to provide a more complete authorization service based on a practical policy, role and attribute-based access control (PBAC + RBAC + ABAC). To validate the approach, two case studies are also discussed under two strategic adversarial models.
Computers and Electrical Engineering, vol. 47, issue October, Elsevier, pp. 299-317, 2015. DOI (I.F.: 1.084)
Current Critical Infrastructures (CIs) need intelligent automatic active reaction mechanisms to protect their critical processes against cyber attacks or system anomalies, and avoid the disruptive consequences of cascading failures between interdependent and interconnected systems. In this paper we study the Intrusion Detection, Prevention and Response Systems (IDPRS) that can offer this type of protection mechanisms, their constituting elements and their applicability to critical contexts. We design a methodological framework determining the essential elements present in the IDPRS, while evaluating each of their sub-components in terms of adequacy for critical contexts. We review the different types of active and passive countermeasures available, categorizing them and assessing whether or not they are suitable for Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP). Through our study we look at different reaction systems and learn from them how to better create IDPRS solutions for CIP.
Information Sciences, vol. 321, Elsevier, pp. 205 - 223, 07/2015. DOI (I.F.: 3.364)
Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are continually exposed to many types of attacks. Among these, the attacks targeted at the base station are the most devastating ones since this essential device processes and analyses all traffic generated in the network. Moreover, this feature can be exploited by a passive adversary to determine its location based on traffic analysis. This receiver-location privacy problem can be reduced by altering the traffic pattern of the network but the adversary may still be able to reach the base station if he gains access to the routing tables of a number of sensor nodes. In this paper we present HISP-NC (Homogenous Injection for Sink Privacy with Node Compromise protection), a receiver-location privacy solution that consists of two complementary schemes which protect the location of the base station in the presence of traffic analysis and node compromise attacks. The HISP-NC data transmission protocol prevents traffic analysis by probabilistically hiding the flow of real traffic with moderate amounts of fake traffic. Moreover, HISP-NC includes a perturbation mechanism that modifies the routing tables of the nodes to introduce some level of uncertainty in attackers capable of retrieving the routing information from the nodes. Our scheme is validated both analytically and experimentally through extensive simulations.
Computers & Security, vol. 55, no. November, Elsevier, pp. 235-250, 2015. (I.F.: 1.64)
The correct operation of Critical Infrastructures (CIs) is vital for the well being of society, however these complex systems are subject to multiple faults and threats every day. International organizations around the world are alerting the scientific community to the need for protection of CIs, especially through preparedness and prevention mechanisms. One of the main tools available in this area is the use of Intrusion Detection Systems (IDSs). However, in order to deploy this type of component within a CI, especially within its Control System (CS), it is necessary to verify whether the characteristics of a given IDS solution are compatible with the special requirements and constraints of a critical environment. In this paper, we carry out an extensive study to determine the requirements imposed by the CS on the IDS solutions using the Non-Functional Requirements (NFR) Framework. The outcome of this process are the abstract properties that the IDS needs to satisfy in order to be deployed within a CS, which are refined through the identification of satisficing techniques for the NFRs. To provide quantifiable measurable evidence on the suitability of the IDS component for a CI, we broaden our study using the Goal Question Metric (GQM) approach to select a representative set of metrics. A requirements model, refined with satisficing techniques and sets of metrics which help assess, in the most quantifiable way possible, the suitability and performance of a given IDS solution for a critical scenario, constitutes the results of our analysis.
Computers & Security, vol. 31, no. 38, Elsevier, pp. 956–966, Nov 2012. DOI (I.F.: 1.158)
Key management in wireless sensor networks (WSN) is an active research topic. Due to the fact that a large number of key management schemes (KMS) have been proposed in the literature, it is not easy for a sensor network designer to know exactly which KMS best fits in a particular WSN application. In this article, we offer a comprehensive review on how the application requirements and the properties of various key management schemes influence each other. Based on this review, we show that the KMS plays a critical role in determining the security performance of a WSN network with given application requirements. We also develop a method that allows the network designers to select the most suitable KMS for a specific WSN network setting. In addition, the article also addresses the issues on the current state-of-the-art research on the KMS for homogeneous (i.e. non-hierarchical) networks to provide solutions for establishing link-layer keys in various WSN applications and scenarios.
Computers and Security, vol. 28, no. 5, Elsevier, pp. 289-300, 2009. (I.F.: 1.488)
Information Security Technical Report, vol. 12, no. 3, Elsevier, pp. 179-185, 2007. DOI
Spam is a big problem for email users. The battle between spamming and anti-spamming technologies has been going on for many years. Though many advanced anti-spamming technologies are progressing significantly, spam is still able to bombard many email users. The problem worsens when some anti-spamming methods unintentionally filtered legitimate emails instead! In this paper, we first review existing anti-spam technologies, then propose a layered defense framework using a combination of anti-spamming methods. Under this framework, the server-level defense is targeted for common spam while the client-level defense further filters specific spam for individual users. This layered structure improves on filtering accuracy and yet reduces the number of false positives. A sub-system using our pre-challenge method is implemented as an add-on in Microsoft Outlook 2002. In addition, we extend our client-based pre-challenge method to a domain-based solution thus further reducing the individual email users’ overheads.
Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, vol. 3, no. 2, Elsevier, pp. 152-162, 2004.
Non-repudiation is a security service that provides cryptographic evidence to support the settlement of disputes in electronic commerce. In commercial transactions, an intermediary (or agent) might be involved to help transacting parties to conduct their business. Nevertheless, such an intermediary may not be fully trusted. In this paper, we propose agent-mediated non-repudiation protocols and analyze their security requirements. We first present a simple scenario with only one recipient, followed by a more complicated framework where multiple recipients are involved and collusion between them is possible. We also identify applications that could take advantage of these agent-mediated non-repudiation protocols.