Making Sound Design Decisions Using Quantitative Security Metrics

Presented By:
William H. Sanders, Donald Biggar Willett Professor of Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Computer Science Department, Information Trust Institute, and Coordinated Science Laboratory, University of Illinois University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Date and Location:
Friday, January 6, 2012 - 1:00pm
NCSA Auditorium | Webcast
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Making sound security decisions when designing, operating, and maintaining a complex system, such as the power grid cyber infrastructure, is a challenging task. Analysts need to be able to understand and predict how different factors affect the overall system security. To provide insight on system security and aid decision-makers, we propose the ADversary VIew Security Evaluation (ADVISE) method to quantitatively evaluate the strength of a system's security. Our approach is to create an executable state-based security model of a system. The security model is initialized with information characterizing the system and the adversaries attacking the system. The model then simulates the attack behavior of the adversaries to produce a quantitative assessment of system security strength. This talk describes the system and adversary characterization data that are collected as input for the executable model. It also describes the simulation algorithms for adversary attack behavior and the computation for the probability that an attack attempt is successful. A power grid distribution-side case study illustrates how to analyze system security using the ADVISE method. A tool is currently under development to facilitate automatic model generation and simulation. The ADVISE method aggregates security-relevant information about a system and its adversaries to produce a quantitative security analysis useful for holistic system security decisions.


William H. Sanders is a Donald Biggar Willett Professor of Engineering and the Director of the Coordinated Science Laboratory ( at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Affiliate Professor in the Department of Computer Science. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and the ACM, a past Chair of the IEEE Technical Committee on Fault-Tolerant Computing, and past Vice-Chair of the IFIP Working Group 10.4 on Dependable Computing.

Dr. Sanders's research interests include secure and dependable computing and security and dependability metrics and evaluation, with a focus on critical infrastructures. He has published more than 200 technical papers in those areas. He is currently the Director and PI of the DOE/DHS Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid (TCIPG) Center ( which is at the forefront of national efforts to make the U.S. power grid smart and resilient. He is also a member of the NIST Smart Grid Advisory Committee which advises the NIST Director on the direction of NIST’s Smart Grid-related programs and activities.

He is also co-developer of three tools for assessing computer-based systems: METASAN, UltraSAN, and Möbius. Möbius and UltraSAN have been distributed widely to industry and academia; more than 500 licenses for the tools have been issued to universities, companies, and NASA for evaluating the performance, dependability, and security of a variety of systems. He is also a co-developer of the Loki distributed system fault injector, the AQuA/ITUA middlewares for providing dependability/security to distributed and networked applications, and the NetAPT (Network Access Policy Tool) for assessing the security of networked systems.

Seminar Status:
About the TCIPG Seminar Series:

The seminar series is presented by the Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid (TCIPG) Project, an $18 million multi-university research effort whose partner institutions include the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Arizona State University, Dartmouth, and Washington State University. The TCIPG Project, a successor to the earlier NSF-funded TCIP Center, was founded in 2009 with support from the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It is housed in the Information Trust Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.