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Pajic Wins National Science Foundation CAREER Award

Grant will develop new techniques to guard against cyberattacks against cyber-physical systems.

Miroslav Pajic, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke University, has won a 2017 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award. Reserved for talented faculty members within the first five years of beginning their own research enterprise, the grant provides $440,000 over five years to support their research.

Pajic’s research project, titled “Foundations for Secure Control of Cyber-Physical Systems,” focuses on creating new ways to guard against cyberattacks in these safety-critical systems. As autonomous vehicles become commonplace and medical devices become connected to the Internet of Things, opportunities for hackers increase, as do the stakes for thwarting their efforts.

With the increase in complexity of these cyber-physical systems (CPS), traditional security standards and methods become inadequate. Pajic and his group will develop scientific foundations for the design of security-aware CPS. To ensure system safety even in the presence of attacks, they will develop algorithms for attack-resilient control and intrusion detection, as well as techniques for efficient controller instrumentation and recovery if the system has been compromised.

Their approach is to exploit physical phenomena present in any interaction between cyber and physical worlds to derive cyber-physical security techniques with strong performance and resiliency guarantees. Pajic will also explore the use of security-aware human-cps interactions to additionally improve security guarantees, by taking advantage of the human power of inductive reasoning and the ability to provide context, in systems where a human is still present. This project will have

This project will have an immediate industrial impact as Pajic and his team will develop security-aware automotive controllers for connected and autonomous vehicles with varying levels of autonomy and human supervision.

“We’re moving into a new era of societal changes with the introduction of autonomous vehicles and smart cities,” said Pajic. “But if these systems are going to interact with and—even more challenging—control the world around us, they need to be built in a way that is safe, reliable and secure.”