Event Details


Wednesday, Jan 29, 2020


4:00 - 5:15 pm


McCombs School of Business, CBA 6.420

BLOC: A Game-Theoretic Approach to Orchestrate CPS with Check Blocks against Cyber Attacks

BLOC: A Game-Theoretic Approach to Orchestrate CPS with Check Blocks against Cyber Attacks

Wednesday, Jan 29, 2020  |  4:00 - 5:15 pm   |  McCombs School of Business, CBA 6.420

On Wednesday, January 29, 2020, the Strauss Center and the Center for Enterprise and Policy Analytics (CEPA) at The University of Texas at Austin are pleased to welcome Mina Guirguis, Professor of Computer Science at Texas State University, for its "Cybersecurity Speaker Series." This afternoon academic seminar is more technically-based than the talk Prof. Guirguis will give earlier in the day. 

Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) will be core to most emerging computing systems. A myriad of activities in our lives will rely on the correct operation of these systems, from transportation and energy domains, to manufacturing and healthcare. Securing CPS against cyber-attacks, however, is challenging due to the wide range of possible attacks – from stealthy ones that seek to manipulate control and measurement signals to malware that infects host machines that control the physical process. This has prompted the research community to develop targeted methods that protect and check the run-time operation of the CPS. Since protecting signals and checking for errors result in performance penalties, they must be performed within the delay bounds dictated by the control loop. Due to the large number of potential checks that can be performed, coupled with various degrees of their effectiveness to detect a wide range of attacks, strategic assignment of these checks in the control loop is a critical endeavor. In this talk, I will present a coherent runtime framework – which we coin BLOC – for orchestrating the CPS with check blocks to secure them against cyber attacks. BLOC capitalizes on game theoretical techniques to enable the defender to find an optimal randomized use of check blocks to secure the CPS while abiding to the control-loop delay constraints. In the first part of the talk, I will present a Stackelberg game model for stateless blocks and a Markov game model for stateful ones and derive optimal policies that minimize the worst-case damage from rational adversaries. In the second part of the talk, I will present a Deep Reinforcement Learning framework that solves for optimal/sub-optimal assignments of check blocks against the explosion in the size of the state/action spaces. I will present results obtained from extensive simulations as well as real instantiations of CPS.  


Mina Guirguis is a Professor of Computer Science at Texas State University, which he joined in 2006. He directs the Intelligent Security Group. His research is broadly driven by the interplay of security, networks and stochastic control with research contributions in the areas of Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS), Networks and Computing Systems, and Mobile Cloud Computing. His research work has been published in over forty refereed papers, posters and journals, and one book chapter. Guirguis' research and educational activities are funded with over $3.3M in grants from the NSF, DoD, AFOSR, DHS, IEEE, Cisco and Texas State. Guirguis received the NSF CAREER award in 2012.

Guirguis has been a visiting faculty researcher at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in the summers of 2012 and 2013. During the academic year 2014/2015 he joined the Mobile and Pervasive Computing Group in the ECE Dept. at UT Austin. Guirguis has been a visiting scholar at the DHS Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) in summer 2016. Guirguis has a wide range of industrial experience at various companies including Fortress Technologies and Microsoft. He has served on various Technical Program Committees for many conferences, on NSF panels and on the Editorial Board for the International Journal on Advances in Networks and Services. Guirguis is serving as an Academic Alliance Member for NCWIT and as a Senior Research Fellow in the LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research.

Guirguis earned his B.Sc. in Computer Science and Automatic Control at Alexandria University in 1999, his M.A. in Computer Science at Boston University in 2005 and his Ph.D. in Computer Science at Boston University in 2007 under Azer Bestavros and Ibrahim Matta.

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