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NSWC Crane enters into CRADA with Indiana University

By NSWC Crane Public Affairs | May 2, 2017

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) has entered into a new cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with Indiana University. The focus of this agreement will be Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) and the security of devices using UPS.

The objective of the research between NSWC Crane and Indiana University's School of Informatics and Computing is to provide an analysis of the cyber-domain risks associated with UPSs. Modern UPSs have a number of interfaces to provide management information to either a host computer via USB or a central server via Ethernet. Such management interfaces provide potential opportunities for attackers to disrupt functionality of the UPS or gain information about the systems connected.

The hope is that, through their collaborative research, NSWC Crane and Indiana University will be able to generate publishable scientific results on the state of UPS security and the threats associated.

"NSWC Crane is excited to utilize the unique multi-domain information security expertise in Indiana University's School of Informatics and Computing to study embedded system security, and more specifically, UPSs," said Dr. Nathaniel Husted, NSWC Crane's Principal Investigator. "UPS devices are ubiquitous in data centers everywhere and are used in a variety of different cases where computational systems must be kept running at all times. We think the results from IU's research will help increase the cybersecurity of the Navy as well as the warfighter."

NSWC Crane and Indiana University would both benefit from the publishing of the scientific research output from this CRADA. NSWC Crane and the Navy would benefit by gaining a better understanding of how UPS systems – as an ecosystem – affect the Navy environment. Indiana University would benefit by providing novel scientific research into the information security field.

"UPSs are common pieces of infrastructure in many machine rooms, and we suspect that they will become more widely distributed in consumer settings in the coming years due to the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices," said Dr. Steven Myers, Indiana University's Principal Investigator. "We are partnering with Crane to look at the security profile of many of these devices, threat model possible attacks, and if found, we'll consider appropriate defenses. Because these have high energy densities, connections to power supplies and computers, and direct or indirect Internet connections, there is at least the theoretical possibility of abuse by malicious actors."

Indiana University PhD student Gianpaolo Russo will be responsible for much of the research associated with this agreement.

A CRADA provides federal laboratories with a vehicle to facilitate the transfer of commercially useful technologies from federal labs to the private sector. NSWC Crane’s Technology Transfer (T2) Program helps link federal research and development to academic institutions and businesses in the private sector. The program has partnerships with more than 100 businesses, individuals and universities.

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi-spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability of today’s warfighter.