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CERIAS Security Seminar: Moving Target Defense for Space Systems

The Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security
August 31, 2022
4:30 PM - 5:30 PM


Chris Jenkins


Students: This is a hybrid event. You are encouraged to attend in person in STEW 050B (G52)

Space systems provide many critical functions to the military, federal agencies, and infrastructure networks. Space Policy Directive-5 Cybersecurity Principles for Space Systems describes both the cyber threat to space systems and the need for these systems to be secure and resilient against cyber-attacks. Most cyber defenses for space systems rely on the ability to detect the adversary. Reliance on detection is a risky proposition, given that anomaly and threat detection remains an open research challenge for both terrestrial and space systems. Furthermore, cyber defenses for space systems must be implemented in size, weight, and power (SWAP)-constrained, real-time operating environments that cannot tolerate increased latency and other common detrimental side-effects of cyber defenses. To overcome these challenges, we have been researching the use to moving target defenses (MTD) to protect space systems against cyber-attacks. MTDs create dynamic, uncertain environments on space systems and can be used to defeat cyber threats against these systems. Furthermore, MTDs do not require detection of an adversary to mitigate the effects of an attack.

Our multi-stage-stage research approach is as follows:Development of a generalized MTD algorithm: though conceptually simple, implementation of MTD can be complex. The first research phase focused on the development of a generalized MTD algorithm that implements randomization schemes with limited impact to nominal operations and failsafe commands to re-sync devices, if needed.
Application of the MTD algorithms to an exemplar: we demonstrated the MTD algorithm on real MIL-STD-1553 hardware using 4 MTD commands
Functional experiments: we evaluated the reliability of the MTD algorithms and whether the use of MTD added unacceptable operational overhead.
Cyber resilience experimentation and validation: we exposed the hardware and MTD to cyber-attacks to determine the effectiveness of the MTD algorithms at thwarting attacks and thereby increasing resilience to the attacks.
Machine learning experiments: we used machine learning models to analyze whether the MTD algorithm introduced vulnerabilities and if the machine learning models could “crack” the MTD algorithm and predict randomization sequences.

The MTD performed well in each of the experiments. Most notably, the cyber resilience experiments showed a 97% reduction in adversarial knowledge. Furthermore, small changes in the MTD algorithm substantially decreased the ability of the machine learning model to decipher randomization sequences.

About: Chris is a principal member of technical staff in the Systems Security Research Department as part of Sandia’s Information Operations Center. Chris supports Sandia’s mission in three key areas: cyber-physical cybersecurity research, high-performance computing, and provides cybersecurity expertise outside the lab. Chris regularly publishes in the open literature, is responsible for multiple technical advances and granted patents, and actively seeks opportunities to transition technology outside of Sandia. Chris leads a team researching innovative ways to protect critical infrastructure and other high-consequence operational technology. His work utilizes a technology called moving target defense to protect these systems from adversary attack. He has partnered with Purdue University over the last 2 years to determine the strength of the innovative, patent-awarded MTD algorithm he has created. His work has explored adapting communication security primitives to utilize his algorithm for space systems and other national security relevant communications architectures. He current research represents Sandia’s national commitment to space systems and Sandia’s strategic investment in the Science and Technology Advancing Resilience for Contested Space Mission Campaign. Chris has a long history of mentoring, whether through work with Sandia interns and the Center for Cyber Defenders, invited lectures and presentations to university students, and professional conferences. Chris also stewards early career Sandia staff. Chris participates in the Black Leadership Committee and also contributed to the Division 5000 Workplace Enhancement Team for several years—one year as co-chair. Chris actively seeks training opportunities to broaden and strengthen his technical skills and is a participant in the Strategic Engagement Training program at Sandia. Lastly, he was awarded the 2022 Black Engineer of the Year Award for Research Leadership.

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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