Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Jonathan Butts, PhD.


Industrial Control Systems (ICS) monitor and control operations associated with the national critical infrastructure (e.g., electric power grid, oil and gas pipelines and water treatment facilities). These systems rely on technologies and architectures that were designed for system reliability and availability. Security associated with ICS was never an inherent concern, primarily due to the protections afforded by network isolation. However, a trend in ICS operations is to migrate to commercial networks via TCP/IP in order to leverage commodity benefits and cost savings. As a result, system vulnerabilities are now exposed to the online community. Indeed, recent research has demonstrated that many exposed ICS devices are being discovered using readily available applications (e.g., Shodan search engine and Google-esque queries). Due to the lack of security and logging capabilities for ICS, most knowledge about attacks are derived from real world incidents after an attack has already occurred. Further, the distributed nature and volume of devices requires a cost effective solution to increase situational awareness. This research evaluates two low cost sensor platforms for enhancing situational awareness in the ICS environment. Data obtained from the sensors provide insight into attack tactics (e.g., port scans, Nessus scans, Metasploit modules, and zero-day exploits) and characteristics (e.g., attack origin, frequency, and level of persistence). The results indicate that the low cost cyber sensors perform sufficiently within the ICS environment. Furthermore, findings enable security professionals to draw an accurate, real-time awareness of the threats against ICS devices and help shift the security posture from reactionary to preventative.

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