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Virginia State Investments in Port of Virginia: Mitigating Systemic Cybersecurity

Coastal Virginia

Principal Investigator: 
Rafael Diaz, research associate professor, supply chain digitalization, Old Dominion University

Co-Principal Investigators:
Haiying Shen, associate professor, systems & information engineering, University of Virginia

Project Description: 
The modernization of terminal operations and facilities and the increased use of intermodal transportation at the Port of Virginia is illustrated in their Capital Investment Plans and the 2065 Master Plan. Significant investments are focused on electrification and promoting the use of alternative intermodal transportation. This transformation entails a shift towards the extensive use of operational technology (OT) and digitalization. The evolution toward cyber-physical systems (CPSs) increases the complexity of operations as devices extensively require reliable communication, coordination, and control systems. The emergence of CPSs and extensive use of OT inexorably increases operational complexity and exposure to cyberattacks. Regrettably, many OT systems are not designed against unprotected intrusion, and collectively, may represent a substantial source of supply chain disruption. These industrial OT systems are characterized by the presence of hierarchies and hyper-vulnerabilities at different operational levels. Cybersecurity protection of these systems requires a systemic approach to evaluate their vulnerability, cyberthreats, and countermeasures. However, current evaluating technologies are applied mainly to IT systems and commonly lack systemic perspectives that consider overlapping risks and tiered hierarchies at the OT layer. Particularly, as an extensive volume of vehicle movements occur at different stages of arrival, transit, and departure of cargo, false information attack of vehicle communication is of preponderant attention. With a view to overcoming these limitations, we propose to develop a simulation-based framework to gain a systemic cybersecurity perspective of the diverse and interconnected OT systems that define the CPS ecosystem of the Port of Virginia with a focus on vehicle communications.