Security of Linear Control Systems
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The coming decades may see the large scale deployment of networked cyber-physical systems to address global needs in areas such as energy, water, healthcare, and transportation. However, as recent events have shown, such systems are vulnerable to cyber attacks. They are not only econoically important, but being safety critical, their disruption or misbehavior can also cause injuries and loss of life. It is therefore important to secure such networked cyber-physical systems against attacks. In the absence of credible security guarantees, there will be resistance to the proliferation of cyber-physical systems, which are much needed to meet global needs in critical infrastructures and services. This study addresses the problem of secure control of networked cyber-physical systems. This problem is different from the problem of securing the communication network, since cyberphysical systems at their very essence need sensors and actuators that interface with the physical plant, and malicious agents may tamper with sensors or actuators, as recent attacks have shown. We consider physical plants that are being controlled by multiple actuators and sensors communicating over a network, where some sensors and actuators could be “malicious." A malicious sensor may not report the measurement that it observes truthfully, while a malicious actuator may not apply actuation signals in accordance with the designed control policy. In the first part of this work, we introduce, against this backdrop, the notions of securable and unsecurable subspaces of a linear dynamical system, and show that they have important operational meanings for both deterministic and stochastic linear dynamical systems in the context of secure control. These subspaces may be regarded as analogs of the controllable and unobservable subspaces reexamined in an era where there is intense interest in cybersecurity of control systems. In the second part of the work, we propose a general technique, termed “Dynamic Watermarking,” by which honest nodes in the system can detect the actions of malicious nodes, and disable closed-loop control based on their information. Dynamic Watermarking employs the technique of honest actuators injecting a “small" random noise, known as private excitation, into the system which will reveal tampering of measurements by malicious sensors. We lay the foundations for the theory for how such an active defense can be used to secure networked systems of sensors and actuators.
Satchidanandan, Bharadwaj (2019). Security of Linear Control Systems. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from