Investigation of Cyber Attacks on a Water Distribution System

Sridhar Adepu, Venkata Reddy Palleti, Gyanendra Mishra, Aditya Mathur

A Cyber Physical System (CPS) consists of cyber components for computation and communication, and physical components such as sensors and actuators for process control. These components are networked and interact in a feedback loop. CPS are found in critical infrastructure such as water distribution, power grid, and mass transportation. Often these systems are vulnerable to attacks as the cyber components such as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition workstations, Human Machine Interface and Programmable Logic Controllers are potential targets for attackers. In this work, we report a study to investigate the impact of cyber attacks on a water distribution (WADI) system. Attacks were designed to meet attacker objectives and launched on WADI using a specially designed tool. This tool enables the launch of single and multi-point attacks where the latter are designed to specifically hide one or more attacks. The outcome of the experiments led to a better understanding of attack propagation and behavior of WADI in response to the attacks as well as to the design of an attack detection mechanism for water distribution system.

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