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Wayne State awarded National Science Foundation cybersecurity grant

Jan. 20, 2020
Research team will design stronger safeguards against automation system attacks.

Wayne State University in Detroit reported Dec. 17 that it's been awarded a three-year, $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to research and evaluate the characteristics of cyberattacks for chemical processes, and will develop advances in control theory and algorithms for enhancing cybersecurity of control systems through designs integrated with other frameworks such as detection algorithms. Helen Durand, assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science in Wayne State’s College of Engineering, will lead the project's research team, which will design stronger safeguards against automation system attacks.

“Our research will develop algorithms that detect cyberattacks and alert company personnel to their presence for chemical processes described by complex dynamic models,” says Durand. “Our project seeks to characterize the conditions under which the process automation algorithms can be made resilient to cyberattacks on various aspects of the automation systems, so attempted attacks are not successful.”

The team will determine the conditions under which cybersecurity enhancement is needed. They'll create a mathematical formalization of different types of undesirable behaviors for various chemical processes where cyberattacks may occur. They'll also develop detection techniques to guarantee that a cyberattack will not create an undesirable behavior if it does penetrate certain information technology defenses. The team will also develop novel sensing and control capabilities for cyber-physical systems to increase flexibility of chemical processes to understand how they may be cyber-attacked.