Securing smart campuses: a holistic multi-layer approach


The vision of this project is to build security for “smart campuses”, that present a microcosm of smart cities and more generally of cyberphysical systems (CPS). Campuses, including academic, national labs or enterprises, will increasingly integrate sensing, computation, and communication in their physical environment to control operation and efficiently serve their communities. Campuses already consist of multiple interacting layers and systems, ranging from human mobility & crowdsourcing, to infrastructure such as building HVAC systems, to transportation, to medical and emergency services, to computing and communication infrastructure, and to monitoring infrastructure such as cameras; in the future they are expected to integrate other services including automated transportation, camera-equipped drones to assist in emergency situations such as earth quakes, fires, or active shooters. Leveraging interactions among these layers with data-driven learning and decision loops can offer significant benefits; for instance in terms of saving energy, reducing operation and maintenance costs and enabling the increase of campus population density that can be comfortably accommodated. However, to successfully move towards increased integration and automation, we need to make safety, security and privacy core design components.

This project will develop a holistic framework to enhance the security, privacy and safety of campus operation, building on our team’s expertise in CPS security, information & wireless security, software & hardware security and privacy-preserving machine learning. Our work will span a range of goals from establishing vigilance across many attack surfaces, improving the safety of legacy systems and establishing principles of security for emerging systems, leveraging crowdsourcing to achieve low cost sensing while preserving personal privacy, securing Internet-of-Things (IoT) firmware, addressing attacks that exploit the interaction between the cyber and physical world, and expanding the availability of emergency communication in the case of incidents. As part of the experimental validation of the proposed research, we will leverage the rich dataset collected by LANL on HVAC systems, as well as access to the LANL test-bed and unclassified high-performance computing resources. Our work will help campuses provide safety guarantees and be better prepared for adversarial and accidental incidents.