Gregory Falco

Gregory Falco
Johns Hopkins University | JHU · Institute for Assured Autonomy

Doctor of Philosophy

About

51
Publications
44,754
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336
Citations
Introduction
Gregory Falco currently works at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Gregory does research in Assured Autonomy for Space, Control Systems, and Smart Cities.
Featured research
Conference Paper
Full-text available
On-orbit servicing, assembly and manufacturing (OSAM) missions promise to help reduce space debris and prolong the life of space vehicles. OSAM systems will require increasing degrees of autonomy given the complexity of servicing missions. This complexity exposes the system to a variety of failures that could be precipitated by mechanical faults, software bugs, environmental factors, or adversaries. These resource-intensive and risk-prone missions will require a high degree of assurance to be operationally feasible. This paper proposes a series of autonomous OSAM reference architectures that can be engaged to evaluate assurance challenges spanning faults to cyber resilience. The future success of these missions will require a high degree of mission resilience so that space vehicles can adapt to and mitigate consequences in a highly dynamic environment. Opportunities to address assurance challenges and enable mission resilience are also discussed as future work.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Once a novelty, small satellites, often referred to as CubeSats, have become important tools for a variety of space activities ranging from exploration to defense. Their relative affordability and short development timeline have made them attractive options to complement larger space vehicles, conduct reconnaissance and other finite tasks. The specialized nature of many CubeSat missions do not make their security any less important as their missions could easily be matters of national security. This paper demonstrates the use of attack tree analysis to assess vulnerabilities of a CubeSat. First, we abstract and build an architectural model of an operational CubeSat. We then create a series of attack trees for the abstracted architecture to illustrate a series of potential attack vectors for small satellites. We conclude by discussing some strategies that could be employed to improve CubeSat resilience.
Article
Full-text available
Highly automated systems are becoming omnipresent. They range in function from self-driving vehicles to advanced medical diagnostics and afford many benefits. However, there are assurance challenges that have become increasingly visible in high-profile crashes and incidents. Governance of such systems is critical to garner widespread public trust. Governance principles have been previously proposed offering aspirational guidance to automated system developers; however, their implementation is often impractical given the excessive costs and processes required to enact and then enforce the principles. This Perspective, authored by an international and multidisciplinary team across government organizations, industry and academia, proposes a mechanism to drive widespread assurance of highly automated systems: independent audit. As proposed, independent audit of AI systems would embody three ‘AAA’ governance principles of prospective risk Assessments, operation Audit trails and system Adherence to jurisdictional requirements. Independent audit of AI systems serves as a pragmatic approach to an otherwise burdensome and unenforceable assurance challenge. As highly automated systems become pervasive in society, enforceable governance principles are needed to ensure safe deployment. This Perspective proposes a pragmatic approach where independent audit of AI systems is central. The framework would embody three AAA governance principles: prospective risk Assessments, operation Audit trails and system Adherence to jurisdictional requirements.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The United States is increasingly reliant on space systems for civil and military operations. Therefore, it is no surprise that adversaries are interested in compromising these systems via cyber attack. This paper describes a new class of satellite-to-satellite cyber attacks. While such attacks were previously limited to a select group of nation-states, low-cost cubesats and ground station cloud services make these attacks increasingly feasible and accessible to adversaries. There are no publicly documented instances of satellite-to-satellite cyber attacks occurring at the time of publication, but the technical feasibility is described herein along with proposed defense and resilience techniques. Policy recommendations to help manage the risk of satellite-to-satellite attacks are also discussed.
Article
Full-text available
Space systems, ranging from satellites to mission control centers, are frequently the target of cyberattacks. Despite the space industry’s technical sophistication, their cybersecurity efforts have lagged behind that of other high–technology sectors. Evidenced by the prevalence of vulnerabilities and attack vectors that go unchecked, space systems ranging from CubeSats to sophisticated rovers have considerable cybersecurity challenges. Although some of these issues are no different than other industries, space systems are met with a unique confluence of cybersecurity risks that complicates the sector’s remediation capabilities. This paper explores factors that led to the space sector’s poor cybersecurity posture, various cyberattacks against space systems, and existing mitigation techniques employed by the sector. Analyzing the current state of the industry along with security practices across similar sectors, several security principles for satellites and space assets are proposed to help reorient the sector toward designing, developing, building, and managing cyber secure systems. These security principles address both technical and policy issues in order to address all space system stakeholders.

Publications

Publications (46)
Article
Full-text available
Space systems, ranging from satellites to mission control centers, are frequently the target of cyberattacks. Despite the space industry’s technical sophistication, their cybersecurity efforts have lagged behind that of other high–technology sectors. Evidenced by the prevalence of vulnerabilities and attack vectors that go unchecked, space systems...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The United States is increasingly reliant on space systems for civil and military operations. Therefore, it is no surprise that adversaries are interested in compromising these systems via cyber attack. This paper describes a new class of satellite-to-satellite cyber attacks. While such attacks were previously limited to a select group of nation-st...
Article
Full-text available
Highly automated systems are becoming omnipresent. They range in function from self-driving vehicles to advanced medical diagnostics and afford many benefits. However, there are assurance challenges that have become increasingly visible in high-profile crashes and incidents. Governance of such systems is critical to garner widespread public trust....
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Once a novelty, small satellites, often referred to as CubeSats, have become important tools for a variety of space activities ranging from exploration to defense. Their relative affordability and short development timeline have made them attractive options to complement larger space vehicles, conduct reconnaissance and other finite tasks. The spec...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
On-orbit servicing, assembly and manufacturing (OSAM) missions promise to help reduce space debris and prolong the life of space vehicles. OSAM systems will require increasing degrees of autonomy given the complexity of servicing missions. This complexity exposes the system to a variety of failures that could be precipitated by mechanical faults, s...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We present a novel approach to developing robust AI in light of context-varying situations. This methodology harnesses a suite of indicators to establish a Robustness Assurance Quotient (RAQ) tailored to address environmentally noisy data while maintaining parity with current standards, namely the Fréchet Inception Distance (FID) metric. While the...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
While awareness of active threats is critical to space vehicles, action is required to avoid harm. Physical hazard avoidance requires orbital manipulation using propulsion, whereas options for avoiding or nullifying radio frequency interference (RFI) are less straightforward. Because these actions need to occur on the space vehicle in real-time des...
Chapter
The question “Why is cyber risk an issue?” pinpoints the leadership challenge that cyber risk poses. The chapter begins with a WannaCry case study that demonstrates how cyberattacks can impact every aspect of organizations given the pervasive nature of digital systems. The chapter describes how leadership must address cyber risk by analyzing the or...
Chapter
The question “What do I need to know about cyber frameworks, standards, and laws?” distills the complex landscape of cyber risk laws, requirements, and standards. The chapter begins with a case study on Nielsen Holdings’ legal and business trouble with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It distinguishes compliance from security...
Chapter
The question “How do I assess our cyber risk?” addresses how to identify and characterize cyber risk unique to an organization’s critical systems, networks, and data. The chapter begins with a case study about a cyberattack on Ukraine’s electric grid. It details risk assessment for three types of critical systems: mission-critical systems, business...
Chapter
The question “Who is attacking us?” explains cyber threat actors and their motivations for attacking organizations. The chapter begins with a Colonial Pipeline case study that describes the ransomware attack against the U.S. fuel pipeline, a cyberattack on critical U.S. infrastructure. The chapter explains different types of cyberattacks, including...
Chapter
The question “How do I embed cyber risk management in all aspects of the organization?” addresses how to adopt an Embedded Endurance cyber risk strategy in your day-to-day work as a cyber leader. The chapter begins with a case study about the NotPetya cyberattack, which highlights ongoing challenges in cyber insurance and illuminates the need for e...
Book
Confronting Cyber Risk: An Embedded Endurance Strategy for Cybersecurity is a practical leadership handbook defining a new strategy for improving cybersecurity and mitigating cyber risk. Written by two leading experts with extensive professional experience in cybersecurity, the book provides CEOs and cyber newcomers alike with novel, concrete guida...
Chapter
The question “Who is responsible for cybersecurity?” addresses how cyber risk prevention and resilience is not a one-person show: it takes a village to reduce organizational cyber risk. A case study opens the chapter by examining the immense hack of Equifax and the company’s poor cyber leadership during and after the data breach. It details the imp...
Chapter
The conclusion summarizes the importance of an Embedded Endurance cyber risk strategy and the steps you can take to design and implement your own. The Embedded Endurance cyber risk strategy you will build focuses on implementing mitigation measures that include prevention and resilience. The chapter describes how even in an evolving cyber risk land...
Chapter
The question “What risk prevention measures can I use?” describes how to reduce the likelihood of a cyberattack on your organization. The chapter begins with a case study on the SolarWinds hack exemplifying how prevention measures on a specific system, network, or data cannot be effective on their own. The chapter describes why cyber risk managemen...
Chapter
The question “What resilience measures can I use?” addresses how to reduce the impact and consequences of successful cyberattacks. The chapter begins with a case study analyzing how Capital One recovered after being hacked and highlighting how your organization can use planning to facilitate cyber resilience. It illuminates the technical means for...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Smart grid infrastructure must be monitored and inspected-especially when subject to harsh operating conditions in extreme, remote environments such as the highlands of Iceland. Current methods for monitoring such critical infrastructure includes manual inspection, static video analysis (where connectivity is available) and unmanned aerial vehicle...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
View Video Presentation: https://doi.org/10.2514/6.2022-0239.vid Cubesats are becoming ubiquitous in Low Earth Orbit with operators ranging from the U.S. Government to commercial businesses, university teams and even hobbyists. However cubesats and small satellites are vulnerable to range of cyberattacks on the ground segment, the link segment and...
Preprint
Cyber-Physical systems (CPS) have complex lifecycles involving multiple stakeholders, and the transparency of both hardware and software components' supply chain is opaque at best. This raises concerns for stakeholders who may not trust that what they receive is what was requested. There is an opportunity to build a cyberphysical titling process of...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Security risks and their associated incidents for commercial space systems could lead to mission failure. This paper describes an extensive database of ~2,000 space security incidents and proposes a taxonomy of security risks based on the compiled database. The taxonomy consists of commercial space risk categories including physical (kinetic, non-k...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
View Video Presentation: https://doi.org/10.2514/6.2021-4051.vid Actionable guidance is currently lacking for space system developers, mission owners, and operators concerning cybersecurity threats and defensive countermeasures. Existing policy guidance is too abstract to address cybersecurity threats in a tangible manner. Conversely, extremely spe...
Preprint
Full-text available
Spending on cybersecurity products and services is expected to top 123 billion U.S. dollars for 2020, more than double the 55 billion U.S. dollars spent in 2011.1 In that same period, cyber breaches quadrupled. Organizations globally face increasing liabilities, while boards of directors grapple with a seemingly Sisyphean challenge. Cyber Crossroad...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Autonomous cyber-physical systems are prone to error and failure. Verification and validation (V&V) is necessary for their safe, secure and resilient operations. Methods to detect faults in aerospace engineering (fault trees) and later adapted for security (attack trees) could capture a wide array of critical risks and argue how stress testing coul...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Spending on cybersecurity products and services is expected to top $123 billion for 2020, more than double the $55 billion spent in 2011. In that same period, cyber breaches quadrupled. Organizations globally face increasing liabilities, while boards of directors grapple with a seemingly Sisyphean challenge. Cyber Crossroads was born out of these a...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Space habitats such as NASA’s proposed Artemis Base Camp will house both astronauts and autonomous systems. The Artemis Base Camp’s infrastructure could provide supporting services to its tenants to optimize their function. This calls for a smart city ecosystem. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has been engaged as a framework to inform human-centric sma...
Conference Paper
The United States is increasingly reliant on space systems for civil and military operations. Therefore, it is no surprise that adversaries are interested in compromising these systems via cyber attack. This paper describes a new class of satellite-to-satellite cyber attacks. While such attacks were previously limited to a select group of nation-st...
Article
Full-text available
Automotive software is increasingly complex and critical to safe vehicle operation, and related embedded systems must remain up to date to ensure long-term system performance. Update mechanisms and data modification tools introduce opportunities for malicious actors to compromise these cyber-physical systems, and for trusted actors to mistakenly in...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
A smart city involves critical infrastructure systems that have been digitally enabled. Increasingly, many smart city cyber-physical systems are becoming automated. The extent of automation ranges from basic logic gates to sophisticated, artificial intelligence (AI) that enables fully autonomous systems. Because of modern society's reliance on auto...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
There are considerable challenges that surround the security of cyber-physical systems. These challenges are compounded by the often heterogeneous nature of different IT and internet of things (IoT) systems that can be found in them. Some of the most onerous tasks around securing a cyber-physical system stem from operational security issues, like p...
Preprint
Full-text available
Automotive software is increasingly complex and critical to safe vehicle operation, and related embedded systems must remain up-to-date to ensure long-term system performance. Update mechanisms and data modification tools introduce opportunities for malicious actors to compromise these cyber-physical systems, and for trusted actors to mistakenly i...
Article
Full-text available
For some time, the question of “What should we be doing to protect our space assets?” has been posed and discussed. While there is not yet a widely-accepted answer, some partial answers are known such as the use of multifactor authentication for critical systems, encrypted communications links with proper key management, and throwing salt over your...
Article
Full-text available
Cyber risk encompasses a broad spectrum of risks to digital systems, such as data breaches or full-fledged cyber attacks on the electric grid. Efforts to systematically advance the science of cyber risk must draw on not only computer science but also fields such as behavioral science, economics, law, management science, and political science. Yet,...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
As smart cities evolve, artificial intelligence (AI) will increasingly be used to manage decisions for how cities operate. For everything from incarceration sentencing, city pension appropriation, surveillance and infrastructure management , AI will play a role. The author argues that implementing AI for a smart city should be decided similarly to...
Article
Full-text available
There is always a risk that a public policy will be unsuccessful. Policy failure can be the result of poorly written policy whose implementation measures are not aligned with the intended goals. It can also be a result of unexpected constraints that impede policy implementation. There are many guides offering advice on how to write good policy and...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Increasingly IoT-enabled infrastructure such as smart cities, energy delivery systems, communication networks, manufacturing plants and transportation systems are unable to manage devices with various makes, models, configurations and applications. Considering the fragility of these industrial IoT devices and their cyber-physical nature, it is impo...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Cyber risk as a research topic has attracted considerable academic, industry and government attention over the past 15 years. Unfortunately, research progress has been modest and has not been sufficient to answer the "call to action" in many prestigious committee and agency reports. To date, industry and academic research on cyber risk in all its c...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Smart cities and advanced energy delivery systems are examples of IoT rich environments. These systems are responsible for communicating critical data about urban infrastructure that keeps our modern cities functioning. Today, IoT devices lack communication protocols with data integrity as a priority. Without data integrity, these systems are at ri...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices are ubiquitous and growing rapidly in number. However, IoT manufacturers have focused on the functionality and features of the devices and made security an afterthought. Since IoT devices have small memory capacities and low-power processors, many security firms have not been able to develop anti-malware software fo...
Article
Full-text available
Technical tools dominate the cyber risk management market. Social cybersecurity tools are severely underutilized in helping organizations defend themselves against cyberattacks. We investigate a class of non-technical risk mitigation strategies and tools that might be particularly effective in managing and mitigating the effects of certain cyberatt...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
**Best Paper Award Nomination** The people responsible for building the IT products and infrastructure of tomorrow-today's students of the computing disciplines-oftentimes do not have the opportunity or proper motivation to develop cybersecurity skills meeting the needs of the job market. This paper introduces High Fidelity Live eXercises (HiFLiX)...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Space assets, including both ground systems and satellites are fundamental, underlying components of most critical infrastructure. Despite their importance, space systems are riddled with cybersecurity issues - both cubesats and sophisticated systems alike. There is little support infrastructure for improving space asset security such as space-spec...
Article
Full-text available
America’s critical infrastructure is becoming "smarter" and increasingly dependent on highly specialized computers called industrial control systems (ICS). Networked ICS components now called the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are at the heart of the "smart city," controlling critical infrastructure such as CCTV security networks, electric gr...
Thesis
Full-text available
Our cities are under attack. Urban critical infrastructure which includes the electric grid, water networks, transportation systems and public health and safety services are constantly being targeted by cyberattacks. Urban critical infrastructure has been increasingly connected to the internet for the purpose of operational convenience and efficien...
Article
Full-text available
Urban critical infrastructure such as electric grids, water networks and transportation systems are prime targets for cyberattacks. These systems are composed of connected devices which we call the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). An attack on urban critical infrastructure IIoT would cause considerable disruption to society. Supervisory Contro...
Article
Full-text available
Microgrids have recently come into vogue as a potential solution to address the increasing number of power outages caused by extreme weather events that impact our cities and communities. Such events – often precipitated by increasing global temperatures and climate change – have repercussions that expand beyond damages to a city's electric infrast...
Article
Full-text available
Our cities are being redefined daily based on social, political and environmental factors. This creates substantial challenges for those that attempt to develop resilience strategies for cities. Resilience planning requires a set of assumptions often based on data; however, the dynamic nature of our growing urban environments has impeded our abilit...

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