Embedded System for Detecting Attacks on Interdependent Controllers from Industrial Control Systems

uah p 20045pan

Docket: UAH-P-20045


Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems manage complex and critical infrastructure, but most controllers in these systems are vulnerable to a variety of cyberattacks. The prevailing method of securing SCADA systems is the use of intrusion detection systems (IDS), which operate on a centrally located server or gateway. During an intrusion, an attacker can compromise the central server and disable the IDS, leaving the SCADA system open to an array of cyber threats. 

Researchers at UAH have developed a technology that fortifies these systems by implementing a multi-layer defense system embedded inside the Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs). The system detects anomalies related to the PLC’s network traffic and abnormalities in the physical process. Additionally, the embedded IDS has a peer-to-peer network to share system states among PLCs, which allows the embedded IDS to detect the legitimacy of sensors connected to neighboring nodes. The detection framework also introduces a novel modeling and simulation approach by segmenting SCADA components into five segments. This modular, scalable, and portable framework can create a high-fidelity replica of an industrial control system during both normal and cyberattack conditions. 

The vulnerability of current SCADA systems presents the threat of economic loss, environmental damage, and harm to citizens. This technology will promote the safety of these systems in two ways. Firstly, the intrusion detection system and its added modules will identify abnormal behavior and protect the system against cyberattacks. Secondly, the simulation framework facilitates the development of SCADA testbeds that can be used by researchers or companies for developing affordable digital twins of industrial systems.



  • Cybersecurity
  • Cyber defense research
  • Industrial control systems


  • Increased security
  • Reduced operation downtime
  • Discovery of new cybersecurity principles
  • No impact on performance of controller


  • State of Development: Prototype
  • Licensing Status: Available for Licensing
  • Patent Status: Patent Pending

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