Ian Ziarko, a senior in Computer Science from Mokena, presented his undergraduate research work entitled “Secure Exchange of Intrusion Detection Data among Coordinating Groups” at the 2014 Meeting of the Council of Undergraduate Research (CUR). The event, which was held this year at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, is the premier event on CUR’s calendar and celebrates undergraduate research from all major fields. Ian presented his work during a concurrent session to an audience of academicians, professionals, and students. It generated a lot of interest.
Ian’s research, which he performed under the guidance of Dr. Ray Klump, focuses on how to make electric utilities nationwide aware of an impending cyber attack. As a critical infrastructure, the nation’s power grid is a ripe target for cyber terrorists, and hackers with malicious intent target utilities thousands of times each day. If any of the attacks prove successful, the consequences could be devastating. Ian’s work proposes a mechanism based on the so-called “Federated Model” developed at Argonne National Laboratory to keep the network of national laboratories apprised of impending and successful attacks. Attacks tend to focus on an industry sector, on organizations that share a mission. Just like the national labs, the nation’s electric utilities share a common mission; namely, to keep the lights on. They are interconnected and dependent on each other, and so an attack on one will likely lead to attacks on the others. If the attacks are allowed to spread in this way, enough of the system could be compromised to cause tremendous damage. Ian’s proposed system would enable the utilities to communicate securely in real time to stop the bleeding. Not only did Ian describe the idea, but he also simulated it in software, demonstrating that it could, in fact, greatly improve the grid’s ability to deal with a coordinated cyber attack.
The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science is very proud of Ian and his work. It is quite an honor to be chosen to present at CUR. This speaks to the quality of Ian’s accomplishment.