$637,000 awarded to improve recovery of critical systems after cyberattacks



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Brajendra Panda

The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity, located within the National Security Agency, has awarded $637,223 to Professor of Computer Science and Computer Engineering Brajendra Panda to improve recovery methods for infrastructure systems critical following a cyberattack.

Critical infrastructure includes things like the power grid, gas and oil pipelines, military installations, and hospitals. An example of a recent attack on critical infrastructure is the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack last year. The attack on the computer equipment left the pipeline down for six days while the company shelled out around $4.4 million in Bitcoin to pay the attackers (although much of it was later recovered) .

In its proposal, Panda notes that the interdependence and interconnection of CI systems makes them more vulnerable to cyberattacks and can cause initial damage to spread rapidly to other systems. “So a small vulnerability in one of these systems can cripple many of them,” Panda noted. “These systems are heterogeneous in nature, that is, they contain both heterogeneous software and data.”

Due to the complexity of IC systems, their recovery can cause significant delays, which is concerning given the time-sensitive nature of the functions that these systems provide, such as electricity.

Panda’s goal is to develop fast, accurate and efficient recovery mechanisms which, together with the rapid damage assessment techniques it has already developed, will provide an “integrated suite solution”. This will allow affected CI systems to continue to operate while providing as much critical functionality as possible.

The two-year grant, with an option for a third year, builds on a previous $287,000 grant from the same funding body that focused on accelerating damage assessment following a cyberattack.

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