Cybersecurity in IoT/CPS Configurations

The proliferation of interconnected IoT devices and cyber-physical systems (CPS) poses significant and potentially serious concerns for safety, security, privacy and integrity.

For example, take the matter of user credentialing and authentication. Consider systems that employ passwords and two-factor authentication to identify users and interconnected systems.  Typically, identifiers in the form of cell phone numbers or email addresses are used to gain access to system services.  These are volatile and subject to loss, cancellation or theft, resulting in a temporary or permanent loss of service – a system fault.

The occurrence of an authentication fault in one system may cause a cascade of faults in the web of interconnected and independently produced devices and systems, posing a challenge to identifying the source of the fault and its remediation.  For safety-related applications, or applications that have cost penalties for loss of service, such authentication failures can be disastrous.

Authentication failures is a class of system fault that can occur in distributed systems.  The effects of such failures can be minimized in systems with integrated designs.  However, they are nearly impossible to predict a prior in heterogenous systems separately designed and deployed over time and in ad hoc ways.  Importantly, accountability for failure detection, diagnosis and response in heterogenous systems may be difficult to establish.

The domain of cybersecurity includes many classes of potential faults, including authentication, data integrity, safety, system integrity (e.g., performance) and availability.  These are system specification and design concerns, alone and in combination.  In IoT and CPS environments they are especially challenging.

Author: Jay Bayne

scientist, philosopher, engineer - interested in the promotion, evolution and practice of cognitive computing