Defense Award Launches Purdue Project to Strengthen Cyber-Physical Systems

April 15, 2024

1 Min Read


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Hiccups and failures of consumer cyber-physical systems like smart gadgets and appliances are inconvenient and annoying. But in mission-critical applications for the Department of Defense, any system weakness or flaw could have serious consequences, such as disruption, damage or even loss of life.

To help mitigate the problem, a group of Purdue University researchers has launched a multidisciplinary project to model, simulate and analyze cyber-physical systems (CPS), with the goal of rendering such systems more robust and making analysis of the systems more scalable and effective. Code named FIREFLY, the multiphase $6.5 million project is sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency under its FIRE program (Faithful Integrated Reverse-engineering and Exploitation). 

A technically intriguing aspect of the research is that, for a CPS with multiple cyber and physical components, the individual components may not appear faulty or vulnerable. But when the components start to interact, weaknesses or vulnerabilities may occur in unexpected ways: “When it comes to the security of system components and of the overall system, one-plus-one may be less than two. And we are particularly interested in exposing and analyzing such system-of-systems weaknesses,” says Dongyan Xu, the Samuel Conte Professor of Computer Science and the principal investigator of the FIREFLY project. 

Read more about the research at the Purdue Office of Research website.

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