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D1.1 Technology survey: Prospective and challenges - Revised version (2018)

6 Secure Smart Water Solutions

A number of related researches works [Osfeld, 2006], [Copeland, 2005], or [Gleick, 2006] provide a threat taxonomy that could target water management systems. According to [Osfeld, 2006], the threats to a water-distribution system can be partitioned into three major groups according to the methods necessary for enhancing their security: (1) a direct attack on the main infrastructure: dams, treatment plants, storage reservoirs, pipelines, etc.; (2) a cyber-attack disabling the functionality of the water utility supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, taking over control of key components that might result in water outages or insufficiently treated water, or changing or overriding protocol codes, etc.; and (3) a deliberate chemical or biological contaminant injection at one of the system’s nodes. Attacks resulting in physical destruction to water management systems could include disruption of operating or distribution system components, power or telecommunications systems, electronic control systems, and actual damage to reservoirs and pumping stations. A loss of flow and pressure would cause problems for customers and would hinder firefighting efforts. Further, destruction of a large dam could result in catastrophic flooding and loss of life. Bioterrorism or chemical attacks could deliver widespread contamination with small amounts of microbiological agents or toxic chemicals and could endanger the public health of thousands. Cyber-attacks on computer operations can affect an entire infrastructure network, and hacking in water utility systems could result in theft or corruption of information or denial and disruption of service. SCADA systems, a critical part of large industrial facilities, such as water distribution infrastructures, are many times deployed with factory settings, pre-set standard configurations common to entire classes of devices, have no authentication/authorization mechanisms to prevent rogue control and with defence mechanisms virtually absent. With the goal of reducing costs and increasing efficiency, these systems are becoming increasingly interconnected, exposing them to a wide range of network security problems. It is commonly accepted that SCADA systems are poorly resilient against cyber-attacks because by design they were not intended to be exposed to the internet. Therefore, the attack surface has been expanded significantly in cyber area. 

Today’s current advanced technology in detection and response is Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems. Big data analytics components are also being integrated lately in a way to improve proactive measures and deliver advanced prevention. Even if those technologies are the state of the art in cyber security they still fail to satisfy end users especially if the enterprise environment is complicated. SCADA as such would suffer from similar false positives which are not acceptable most of the times because they affect the production phase. These systems need to be improved in order to provide correct detection and accurate response measures in order to decrease the risk and mitigate the threat. In case of fail disaster recovery and business continuity plans are in place to ensure that service delivery will not stop. The ENISA (European Network Information Security Agency) has produced recommendations for Europe and member states on how to protect Industrial Control Systems. The document describes the current state of Industrial Control System security and proposes seven recommendations for improvement. The recommendations call for the creation of national and pan-European ICS security strategies, the development of a Good Practices Guide on the ICS security. They would foster awareness and education, as well as research activities or the establishment of a common test bed and ICS-computer emergency response capabilities. [Kuipers and Fabro, 2006] provides guidance and direction for developing ‘defence-in-depth’ strategies for organizations that use control system networks while maintaining a multi-tier information architecture. Additionally, [Byres et al, 2008] state that companies need to deploy a “defence in depth” strategy, where there are multiple layers of protection, down to and including the control device. 

[Phelan et al, 2007] presents a risk assessment methodology that accounts for both physical and cyber security. It also preserves the traditional security paradigm of detect, delay and respond, while accounting for the possibility that a facility may be able to recover from or mitigate the results of a successful attack before serious consequences occur. The methodology provides a means for ranking those assets most at risk from malevolent attacks. Because the methodology is automated the analyst can also play "what if with mitigation measures to gain a better understanding of how to best expend resources towards securing the facilities. It is simple enough to be applied to large infrastructure facilities without developing highly complicated models. Finally, it is applicable to facilities with extensive security as well as those that are less well-protected. Future research initiatives that should be addressed to ensure the grid maintains adequate attack resilience are introduced by [Govindarasu et al, 2012]. The developments of strong risk modelling techniques are required to help quantify risks from both a cyber and physical perspective. Improved risk mitigation efforts are also required focusing on both the infrastructure and application perspectives. Particularly, attack resilient control, monitoring, and protection algorithms should be developed to utilize increased system knowledge to reduce the impact from a successful attack. Risk information must also be provided to operators and administrators through the development of real-time situational awareness infrastructure, which can be integrated with current monitoring functions to assist in dissemination of cyber alerts and remedies, and the development of appropriate attack responses.

More modern approaches are based on the partnership between scientists and citizens. Participatory research has been previously used, in fact, internationally to involve local communities in data collection and monitoring or natural resources management research. [Roa and Brown, 2009] explore the involvement of youth in environmental research. The research took place in a small rural watershed in Colombia, the Los Sainos micro-watershed in the western cordillera of the Colombian Andes. The research was conducted in 2004 and 2005, and involved a total of 30 youth, with subgroups involved in specific themes. Youth from 9 to 17 years old were invited to participate in the project through the local schools and were involved in all aspects of the research including survey design, data collection, analysis and the presentation of results. Working with youth led, particularly interesting, to a raised awareness of environmental issues amongst the youth themselves and allowed them to raise awareness amongst their peers and adults in the local community. A significant aspect was the development of an approach to watershed assessment, which involved youth in all aspects of the research. This process was found to advance environmental education, and knowledge of research methods and local environmental impacts.

For data collection in particular, participatory sensing relies on electronic means widely available for collecting the data with the help of ordinary people. As mobile phones have evolved from devices that are just used for voice and text communication, to advanced platforms that are able to capture and transmit a range of data types (image, audio, and location), the adoption of these increasingly capable devices by society has enabled a potentially pervasive sensing paradigm - participatory sensing. A coordinated participatory sensing system engages individuals carrying mobile phones to explore phenomena of interest using in situ data collection. By enabling people to investigate previously difficult to observe processes with devices they use every day, participatory sensing brings the ideals of traditional community-based data collection and citizen science to an online and mobile environment, while offering automation, scalability, and real-time processing and feedback. In particular, in participatory sensing, individuals explicitly select the sensing modalities (they are in control of their privacy-related data) to use and what data to contribute to larger data collection efforts.

An example of a participatory sensing project in presented by [Sasank et al, 2011], where authors demonstrate the creation of participatory sensing campaigns using smartphones. One campaign, called “What's Bloomin”, deals with water conservation, by asking subjects to take geo-tagged photos of “blooming” flora. Having this inventory enables facilities to identify, using the plants, the water saturation within the soil, and draw conclusions as to when to replace high water usage plants with ones that are drought tolerant. 

Other environmental / water-related applications include measuring pollution levels in a city, water levels in creeks, and/or monitoring wildlife habitats. Such applications enable the mapping of various large-scale environmental phenomena by involving the common person. An example prototype deployment is CreekWatch, developed by IBM Almaden Research Center [Kim, 2010]. It monitors water levels and quality in creeks by aggregating reports from individuals, such as pictures taken at various locations along the creek or text messages about the amount of trash. Such information can be used by water control boards to track pollution levels in water resources.

There are also several challenges we’ll need to tackle for participatory sensing. Finding a fit between diverse users and participatory sensing projects mirrors traditional selection for volunteer work based on interest and skill. But because participatory sensing is organized virtually / electronically, identifying best-suited particular participants (individuals who collect, analyze, and share their data) for campaigns (targeted data collection efforts) can be, thus far, only partially automated. Identification techniques for participants generally rely not only on participants' reputations as data collectors-based contribution habits, but also on participants' availability in the area of interest [Lu, 2011]. 

For encouraging participation, various reputation models have been proposed and used for participatory sensing. The simplest reputation models are ones that are summation and average based. They use an aggregation of ratings (i.e., by summing, as in case of eBay, or averaging, as in case of Amazon), to create an overall single reputation score. An alternative scheme to having reputations being a numerical value is to use discrete labels. For example, the Slashdot web site aggregates ratings on actions, such as story submissions, postings, moderation activities, into tiers for participants that include terrible, bad, neutral, positive, good, and excellent [Sasank et al, 2011].

Another challenge for participatory sensing comes from the dynamic conditions of the set of mobile devices. Data quality in terms of accuracy, latency, and confidence can change all the time due to device mobility, variations in their energy levels and communication channels, and device owners’ preferences. Identifying the right set of devices to produce the desired data and instructing them to sense with proper parameters to ensure the desired quality is a complex problem. Related to reputation is the need to understand human behaviour, as people are the carrier of the sensing devices, and their recruitment depends on their capability to correctly collect sending data. A variety of data mining and statistical tools can be used to distil information from the data collected by mobile phones and calculate summary statistics related to human behaviour recognition. Still, recognizing human behaviour is still a somewhat unsolved research direction, but thus far not many frameworks managed to successfully incorporate this aspect in the recruitment decisions. 

An idea not yet fully explored, for the future, is to use participatory data as complementary to more-traditional sensor-based gathered information on water quality and water management processes. Reputation models for the data sources can, in theory, be constructed for this using distributed technologies based on blockchain and smart contracts - an interesting application of this technology for water supply. Furthermore, using blockchain as a secure decentralized database will enable scalability, privacy and consistency for shared data, open format exchange, end-to-end data transparency management, resilience to cyber-attacks, with faster transactions, lower maintenance costs, which improves efficiency.