Stress-testing alternative water quality sensor designs under cyber-physical attack scenarios

D. Nikolopoulos, G. Moraitis, G. Karavokiros, D. Bouziotas, and C. Makropoulos, Stress-testing alternative water quality sensor designs under cyber-physical attack scenarios, Environmental Sciences Proceedings, 21 (1), 17, doi:10.3390/environsciproc2022021017, 2022.



Water systems are rapidly transforming into cyber-physical systems. Despite the benefits of remote control and monitoring, autonomous operation and connectivity, there is an expanded threat surface, which includes cyber-physical attacks. This study demonstrates a stress-testing methodology that focuses on assessing the performance of a contamination warning system, designed with alternative water quality (WQ) sensor placement strategies against cyber-physical attacks. The physical part of the attacks consists of backflow injection attacks with a contaminant, while the cyber part comprises cyber-attacks to the contamination warning system. The WQ sensor designs are generated with the Threat Ensemble Vulnerability Assessment and Sensor Placement Optimization Tool (TEVA-SPOT), based on optimizing various metrics. The coupled WDN and CPS operation, the deliberate contamination events, and the cyber-physical attacks, are simulated with the water system cyber-physical stress-testing platform RISKNOUGHT. Multidimensional resilience profile graphs are utilized to analyze performance, demonstrated in a benchmark case study. This type of assessment can be useful in risk assessment studies for water utilities as well as in WQ sensor placement optimization.

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