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PACiFiC Initiative

About PACiFiC

Challenge

The nation's high-consequence infrastructures, such as the power grid, have many systems and devices that monitor and control critical physical processes such as the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity. However, these control systems or operational technologies (OT), are static, have legacy components, and are inherently insecure. Adversaries are highly focused on exploiting these systems, the results of which could be devastating. PACiFiC will demonstrate, for the first time, that OT can, in principle, be made secure by developing adaptive systems - ones that are proactive, flexible, and dynamic in response to cyber threats/events.

Approach

PACiFiC will combine adaptive principles, cross-domain information, and classic security practices to deliver demonstrably more secure OT. To accomplish this goal, this initiative will unify disparate data and information from across domains, including human, cyber, communications, and process physics to define and establish secure design principles for use in all OT systems across multiple sponsor spaces. We will test and adjust adaptive technologies that will proactively stop our adversaries and ultimately create and test an adaptive control framework that is aware of business (process control) requirements.

We will explore four primary areas of research:

  • Secure Design: Is it possible to develop secure design rules for OT that define minimum security for all sponsors OT systems, and that enable adaptive defense?
  • Unifying Information: How can we leverage the contextual information and measured data from the human, cyber, communications, and process physics domains to allow adaptive security in OT systems?
  • Adaptive Control: How do we implement adaptive controls and control them for an OT systems?
  • Testing: How do we empirically validate our solutions? Is it possible to build a generalizable reference system with appropriate accuracy and repeatability?

PACiFiC Framework

Impact

PACiFiC will establish the scientific foundations to understand and shape the grid-cyber-social system, thereby enhancing the understanding, control, and security of our critical infrastructures. The knowledge and technology resulting from PACiFiC will be leveraged to OT missions across multiple sponsor spaces, creating measurably more secure and performant control systems throughout the nation.

PACiFiC Overview Flyer

PACiFiC