Departmental Papers (CIS)

Date of this Version


Document Type

Journal Article


This paper is concerned with the security of modern Cyber-Physical Systems in the presence of transient sensor faults. We consider a system with multiple sensors measuring the same physical variable, where each sensor provides an interval with all possible values of the true state. We note that some sensors might output faulty readings and others may be controlled by a malicious attacker. Different from previous works, in this paper we aim to distinguish between faults and attacks and develop an attack detection algorithm for the latter only. To do this, we note that there are two kinds of faults – transient and permanent; the former are benign and short-lived whereas the latter may have dangerous consequences on system performance.We argue that sensors have an underlying transient fault model that quantifies the amount of time in which transient faults can occur. In addition, we provide a framework for developing such a model if it is not provided by manufacturers.

Attacks can manifest as either transient or permanent faults depending on the attacker’s goal. We provide different techniques for handling each kind. For the former, we analyze the worst-case performance of sensor fusion over time given each sensor’s transient fault model and develop a filtered fusion interval that is guaranteed to contain the true value and is bounded in size. To deal with attacks that do not comply with sensors’ transient fault models, we propose a sound attack detection algorithm based on pairwise inconsistencies between sensor measurements. Finally, we provide a real-data case study on an unmanned ground vehicle to evaluate the various aspects of this paper.

Subject Area

CPS Security

Publication Source

ACM Transactions on Cyber-Physical Systems





Start Page

Article 15




Process control systems, Real-time and embedded systems, unauthorized access, hacking, phreaking, Cyber-Physical Systems security, sensor fusion, fault-tolerance, fault-tolerant algorithms



Date Posted: 06 July 2018

This document has been peer reviewed.