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Digital Twins for CPS Security

Dagstuhl Seminar: Digital Twins for Cyber-Physical Systems Security

Cyber-physical systems (CPSs) must be adequately protected against adversaries throughout their entire lifecycle. However, designing holistic security measures is a pressing ongoing challenge for academia and industry alike. The concept of digital twins may alleviate this issue: Virtually replicating the real systems can provide cost-efficient modeling, testing, monitoring, and even predictive capabilities.

This Dagstuhl seminar aims to provide insights into the opportunities and limitations of the digital-twin concept for CPS security, which will ultimately help to shape this emerging research area. In this seminar, we will focus on digital-twin-enabled i) security testing, ii) intrusion detection, and iii) response mechanisms.

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Project details

Cyber-physical systems (CPSs) constitute an attractive attack target due to their sophisticated networking, computation, and physical control capabilities, leading to an expanded attack surface and potential safety implications. Thus, it is vital that the CPSs being engineered are thoroughly tested and that adequate response measures can be realized upon detecting intruders during operation. However, security testing is hard to conduct due to expensive hardware, limited maintenance periods, and safety risks. Furthermore, the increased stealthiness of threat actors requires new intrusion detection and response methods.

Interestingly, digital twins have become an important concept in industrial informatics to solve similar problems, yet with a non-security-related focus: Digital twins that virtually replicate the real systems provide cost-efficient modeling, testing, monitoring, and even predictive capabilities. However, until recently, the digital-twin concept has mainly focused on production optimizations or design improvements, without considering its potential for CPS security.

The purpose of this seminar is to investigate the potential of applying this concept for security-enhancing purposes. In this context, we focus on the use cases security testing, intrusion detection, and response and reconfiguration. We want to leverage a multi-disciplinary perspective to combine approaches from different domains (e.g., information security and production systems engineering). Our aim is to i) bridge the gap between disciplines, ii) reach consensus about the underlying terminology, and iii) explore the potential of this novel concept.

The results of this seminar will provide insights into the opportunities and limitations of the concept, which will ultimately also help to shape this emerging research area.

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