Short-circuiting Cybersecurity Threats
Providing data security at a time when artificial intelligence-enhanced tools are becoming commonplace means more than virus protection and a strong password.
Mina Guirguis, Texas State University computer science professor, specializes in developing security for Cyber-Physical Systems (or CPS), the rapidly growing number of machines that combine computation, sensors data, digital communications, and artificial intelligence with our physical world.
“The problem with these systems is if they’re attacked they can cause physical damage or even hurt someone,” Guirguis says. “Cars now have sensors. They can sense where they are, how close they are to other people, and they can make decisions.”
The Intelligent Security Group creates great opportunities for Texas State students to gain hands-on experience.
If a hacker can send false or misleading sensor data to a CPS-controlled machine, it errors; like a self-driving car failing to see an obstacle, for example, or causing the sensors in a power plant to send false data that causes a system reaction that leads to power grid instability.
As director of the Intelligent Security Group at Texas State, Guirguis sometimes has to think like a hacker, as his research group designs simulated cyberattacks in their quest to develop better defenses.
“We use machine learning and AI to come up with the best (security) checks and where to assign them within CPS in order to detect attacks,” he said.
The Intelligent Security Group also creates great opportunities for Texas State students to gain invaluable hands-on experience working on realistic CPS.
“Cybersecurity is one of the hot topics in computer science,” Guirguis said. “We have all this data coming from all these sensors, and we need intelligent algorithms to make sense of it and identify potential hidden attack patterns.”
The Future is Cyber
1,400 self-driving vehicles are now in testing by more than 80 companies in the U.S.
1.39 million drones are currently registered in the U.S., of which more than 372,000 are for commercial use.
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, 2019
Accurate as of November 2019