CERIAS Security Seminar: Covert Cognizance: A New Paradigm for Modeling and Monitoring

The Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security
November 10, 2021
4:30 PM - 5:30 PM


Hany Abdel-Khalik
Purdue University

Abstract: Can industrial systems be made self-aware, alert operators to misuse while cleverly lulling capable adversaries into a false sense of superiority? Achieving these goals forms the focus of covert cognizance (C2). The C2 paradigm is an active cyber defense that aims to serve as an additional layer of physical process defense against highly sophisticated attacks such as advanced persistent threats where the attack vector has privileged access at the human-system interface level, representing the top of the hierarchy in terms of component access and sophistication. C2 perturbs systems in a manner that induces cognizance by storing incorruptible information about the process such as its execution history in the process itself. It does so in a covert manner by exploiting the vast redundant space inherent to dynamical systems without the introduction of additional variables that may leave a footprint. Moreover, the perturbations are designed to be impervious to pattern-detection techniques like AI and ML to further reinforce the covertness requirement. This work falls under the broad framework of cyber-informed engineering approach adopted by the nuclear community.

About: Hany was born in Alexandria Egypt where he obtained his pre-college education and a Bachelor degree in Nuclear Engineering from Alexandria University in 2000. Immediately after that, he accepted an offer to continue his graduate studies at North Carolina State University (NCSU), where he worked on computational reactor physics for boiling water reactors. Following graduation, he moved to Lynchburg, VA where he worked for AREVA-NP in their methods group on fuel loading pattern optimization for pressurized water reactors. In 2007, he started a tenure-track position at NCSU, where he was jointly funded by the Idaho National Laboratory. One year after obtaining his tenure in 2013, he moved to Purdue University in the school of nuclear engineering. He is currently focusing on data mining applications in the context of reactor safety, economy, and cybersecurity.

The weekly security seminar has been held every semester since spring of 1992. We invite personnel at Purdue and visitors from outside to present on topics of particular interest to them in the areas of computer and network security, computer crime investigation, information warfare, information ethics, public policy for computing and security, the computing "underground," and other related topics. More info

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