A Hybrid Threat Model for Smart Systems

21st December, 2023

Authors Fulvio Valenza, Erisa Karafili, Rodrigo Vieira Steiner and Emil C. Lupu


Cyber-physical systems and their smart components have a pervasive presence in all our daily activities. Unfortunately, identifying the potential threats and issues in these systems and selecting enough protection is challenging given that such environments combine human, physical and cyber aspects to the system design and implementation. Current threat models and analysis do not take into consideration all three aspects of the analyzed system, how they can introduce new vulnerabilities or protection measures to each other. In this work, we introduce a novel threat model for cyber-physical systems that combines the cyber, physical, and human aspects. Our model represents the system’s components relations and security properties by taking into consideration these three aspects. Together with the threat model we also propose a threat analysis method that allows understanding the security state of the system’s components. The threat model and the threat analysis have been implemented into an automatic tool, called TAMELESS, that automatically analyzes threats to the system, verifies its security properties, and generates a graphical representation, useful for security architects to identify the proper prevention/mitigation solutions. We show and prove the use of our threat model and analysis with three cases studies from different sectors.

Authors: Fulvio Valenza, Erisa Karafili, Rodrigo Vieira Steiner and Emil C. Lupu

The paper can be found at the following link:  https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/9916127

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