UTEP Awarded $171K to Develop Cyber Security Network for U.S. Department of Energy
Last Updated on January 13, 2020 at 12:00 AM
Originally published January 13, 2020
By Darlene Barajas
Researchers from The University of Texas at El Paso's Computer Science Department will have a hand in bolstering the safety of cybersecurity operations conducted by fossil fuel power generation plants thanks to a $171,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The grant, which is being awarded through Old Dominion University Research Foundation, is geared toward developing a blockchain empowered platform for identity management and process integrity for sensors in fossil fuel power plants. This capability would provide real-time validation of sensor data and detect incidental, accidental and malicious incidents that could cause equipment to operate in violation of service agreements. The development of the integrated testbed will be conducted with industry collaborators and will be evaluated under different network configurations.
Leading the effort at UTEP is Deepak K. Tosh, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science. The research will be conducted via a group of graduate and undergraduate students at both UTEP and Old Dominion, located in Norfolk, Virginia, during the next three years. Tosh, the grant’s principal investigator, will supervise the students at UTEP to develop identity management and data integrity solutions for the project. UTEP participants include Abel Gomez, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher, and Evan White and Adrian Orquiz, a pair of undergraduate students. Leading the research at Old Dominion is Sachin Shetty, Ph.D., associate professor.
The collaborators hope to produce a prototype that addresses cybersecurity challenges introduced through integration in fossil-based power generation plants. Research is being conducted in collaboration with Accenture Labs and Argonne National Lab.
Tosh said challenges related to national security are crucial issues that need to be addressed. To that end, he has aligned his research focus in designing secure, decentralized, and scalable solutions for both civilian, military/battlefield and critical infrastructure applications.
“Although the traditional centralized computing paradigm works well at present, the trust, privacy, and security issues are the main thing we want to ensure are not overlooked,” Tosh said.