A Formal Approach to Physics-Based Attacks in Cyber-Physical Systems (Extended Version)

Ruggero Lanotte, Massimo Merro, Andrei Munteanu, Luca Viganò

We apply formal methods to lay and streamline theoretical foundations to reason about Cyber-Physical Systems (CPSs) and physics-based attacks, i.e., attacks targeting physical devices. We focus on a formal treatment of both integrity and denial of service attacks to sensors and actuators of CPSs, and on the timing aspects of these attacks. Our contributions are fourfold. (1)~We define a hybrid process calculus to model both CPSs and physics-based attacks. (2)~We formalise a threat model that specifies MITM attacks that can manipulate sensor readings or control commands in order to drive a CPS into an undesired state, and we provide the means to assess attack tolerance/vulnerability with respect to a given attack. (3)~We formalise how to estimate the impact of a successful attack on a CPS and investigate possible quantifications of the success chances of an attack. (4)~We illustrate our definitions and results by formalising a non-trivial running example in Uppaal SMC, the statistical extension of the Uppaal model checker; we use Uppaal SMC as an automatic tool for carrying out a static security analysis of our running example in isolation and when exposed to three different physics-based attacks with different impacts.

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