Testbed Science

The nation needs technology that can prevent attacks on critical infrastructure, but the problem is vast and the timeline to deploy emerging technologies is long.

Some believe that it is inevitable that a determined adversary will eventually attack critical infrastructure, creating a big impact on our daily life. The steps that we take in the aftermath is critical not only to the restoration of the service provided by those infrastructures, but to the security of the nation. Our nation needs techniques, tools, and knowledge of what to do to protect these systems in advance, and if that fails, to be able to competently respond during and after an attack.

How does one test the prevention tools on critical infrastructure without impacting current operations? Or validate the results of those tests? These questions, and many more, have one logical solution: a high-fidelity representation of these systems, or testbed, that reflects the real world.

At ITI, we are developing testbeds to support research, development, exploration of techniques, training, exercises, and the exploration of next-generation architectures for critical infrastructure. The goal of this work is to solve difficult science problems that must tackle scale, fidelity, usability, realism, and rigor. This realistic view must be realized in multiple dimensions: network, data, hardware, and software. The key technical challenges are to provide that realistic view in each of those dimensions cohesively, and have those dimensions integrated into a seamless whole that is behaviorally indistinguishable from the real system.

Ultimately, ITI works to provide solutions to “hard” science problems that enable testbed environments on which prospective techniques and tools can be developed, refined, and validated in a context with unprecedented system fidelity. Illinois is the leader and innovator in cyber-oriented ICS science and the testbeds that enable it, creating technology that has been proven to transition to the marketplace.