With the advent of highly sophisticated cyber-physical malware (CPM) such as Industroyer, a cyberattack could be as destructive as the terrorist attack on 9/11, it would virtually paralyze the nation. We discuss as the major risks the vulnerability of: telecommunication infrastructure, industrial control systems (ICS), and mission-critical software.
In differentiating CPM from traditional malware, the difference really comes from the open-ended possibilities for malware triggers resulting from the wide spectrum of sensor inputs, and the almost limitless application-specific possibilities for designing malicious payloads.
Fundamentally, the challenges of detecting sophisticated CPM stem from the complexities inherent in the software at the heart of cyber-physical systems. We discuss three fundamental challenges: explosion of execution behaviors, computational intractability of checking feasible behaviors, and difficult-to-analyze programing constructs.
In detecting novel CPM, the tasks are: developing plausible hypotheses for malware trigger and mali- cious payload, analyzing software to gather evidence based on CPM hypotheses, and verifying software to prove or refute a hypothesis based on the gathered evidence. We discuss research directions for effective automation to support these tasks.
Publisher: Springer Verlag Publishers, April 2018.
Authors: Suresh Kothari, Ganesh Santhanam, Benjamin Holland, Payas Awadhutkar, Jon Mathews, Ahmed Tamrawi
Paper (PDF): CatastrophicCyber-PhysicalMalware.pdf