SBIR Phase 1 award funds development of new techniques for visual representation of the interdependencies between information networks and the other critical infrastructure upon which they rely for continues operation.
The research project, dubbed Cascade, involves design and development of a display system that visually depicts the electronic and physical vulnerabilities of a network, and how those vulnerabilities can be magnified by the network’s dependence on other critical infrastructures (e.g. power). It will include the geographic location of critical computing resource, and man-made and natural threats specific to the geographic region that could affect the computing resources. Cascade will present that information to a user in a manner that allows him or her to quickly analyze risks and decide on an appropriate course of action.
To use a recent example to illustrate this concept, consider network assets in the Gulf of Mexico area. By representing network asset information geographically, and including an overlay of local data about power lines, flood plain data (with associated flood risk), and highway access, one would have been able to predict which network functions’ quality of service could be affected by an impending hurricane. Further, by adding organizational mission data one could have seen that the loss of a particular network function would affect critical services; for example, passport renewals – which happen to be located in New Orleans – as was experienced in the wake of Katrina.
The overall goal is to design a system that provides near real-time awareness of vulnerabilities within the cyber infrastructure to threats emanating within and outside of the cyber infrastructure. The system will combine information about the physical and logical components of a computer network with geographic-spatial information, along with vulnerability and threat information, and will present that information in an intuitive visual form that can be easily understood by those responsible for maintaining critical networks.