Prevention, protection and reaction to cyber attacks to critical infrastructures


Since 2001, external cyber incidents have accounted for the majority of security incidents at critical infrastructures. Such attacks may aim at actively sabotaging processes controlled by critical infrastructure or may effectively perform Denial of Service on such networks, which may both pose a risk for disrupting the processes managed by the CI and may also be a significant risk for people living in the vicinity. As new, more sophisticated cyber threats to telecommunication networks and supervision systems emerge, breakthroughs and innovations in security technologies, architectures and methodologies are required.

Security of ICT systems for critical infrastructures today still consists mostly of attaching additional software layers to existing systems. As a consequence, and also due to lack of sufficient interoperability, innovations like real-time prevention, monitoring, detection, diagnosis and reaction have not yet reached provided the results which would be expected and desirable. Thus, designing and embedding of new security mechanisms directly into the systems is needed to drastically increase reliability and security levels, and provide higher levels of resilience. Typically, a CI is composed of many elements. For instance, in transportation we can have tens or hundreds of thousands of sensors, actuators, communication nodes, vehicles, users, etc., all dynamically coexisting, interacting and forming a so-called system-of-systems. This system-of-systems has to combine mission-critical – or even life-critical – operations, with the need to be open to third parties, and therefore potentially very vulnerable to cyber criminals. Thus, dynamic scalability and integration - whilst maintaining appropriate security levels - are key challenges in current ICT systems for critical infrastructures.

The strategic goal of PRECYSE is to define, develop and validate a methodology, an architecture and a set of technologies and tools to improve –by design– the security, reliability and resilience of the ICT systems supporting Critical Infrastructures.

Prevention, protection and reaction to cyber attacks to critical infrastructures

Lead Institution

Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT), Queen's University Belfast In collaboration with 8 European partners under the 7th Framework Programme (FP7)

Key word(s)

Cyber, malware, protection, critical infrastructure, monitoring, detection, diagnosis

Associated Consultants

  • Prof Sakir Sezer
  • Dr Kieran McLoughlin
  • Dr Gareth Douglas
  • Dr Rosi Armstrong

Project Funding

We have access to a range of potential funding mechanisms to support your business collaborate with this project including

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