A Systems Theoretic Approach to the Security Threats in Cyber Physical Systems Applied to Stuxnet
Cyber Physical Systems (CPSs) are increasingly being adopted in a wide range of industries such as smart power grids. Even though the rapid proliferation of CPSs brings huge benefits to our society, it also provides potential attackers with many new opportunities to affect the physical world such as disrupting the services controlled by CPSs. Stuxnet is an example of such an attack that was designed to interrupt the Iranian nuclear program. In this paper, we show how the vulnerabilities exploited by Stuxnet could have been addressed at the design level. We utilize a system theoretic approach, based on prior research on system safety, that takes both physical and cyber components into account to analyze the threats exploited by Stuxnet. We conclude that such an approach is capable of identifying cyber threats towards CPSs at the design level and provide practical recommendations that CPS designers can utilize to design a more secure CPS.
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