Whilst most Europeans are able to go about their daily lives in relative safety, our societies are facing serious security challenges that are growing in scale and sophistication. Many of these challenges have an impact both on individual countries, and on the European Union as a whole. As critical infrastructures (e.g., water distribution networks, power distribution networks, transportation networks, health care delivery systems) and the vital services they become increasingly dependent on technology, they are more susceptible to attacks and failures and their security is of paramount importance.

When critical infrastructures fail, the consequences may be tremendous, in view of societal, health, and economic aspects. Disruptions to one of these systems – through deliberate "cyber" attacks, natural disasters, or technical failures – could cause major economic and social damage. To complicate matters, a failure in one infrastructure could lead to failures in other sectors as well, causing a cascade effect, because of the synergistic effect of critical infrastructure industries on each other. For example, if a large geographical area experiences a blackout for an extended period of time, this may cause problems in the transportation, telecommunication, as well as water distribution networks, resulting in potentially huge economic and societal costs. Moreover, these interdependencies often transcend borders as well as sectors, thus making it very difficult for a single EU State to tackle such attacks or failures individually.

The European project “FACIES” aims to develop and validate techniques which can ensure precise identification of critical infrastructure failures and help to reduce the proliferation of risks posed by the failures and attacks of critical infrastructures.

The aim is to provide distributed and automatic preventive solutions that help underlying systems guarantee their resilience and survivability at all times. This will enable improved cooperation between entities responsible for critical infrastructures, including the sharing of data streams irrespectively of the situation; i.e. either a normal situation or a threatening situation.

“FACIES”, comprises of a multidisciplinary research group which represents a number of expert research organizations and technology companies in Europe, plans to develop techniques for detecting, isolating, and accommodating faults within interdependent critical infrastructure. The results of the project could be especially useful to operators of critical infrastructures who could use the tools developed within this project to avoid any serious repercussion of failures and attacks by helping with the early detection of faults and thus preventing “small” fault events from escalating into major failures.

The Lead Partner for the project is the University Campus Bio-Medico of Rome, Italy. Other partners include the University of Malaga and technology company RadioLabs.

Professors M. Polycarpou, G. Ellinas, C. Panayiotou, and E. Kyriakides, along with a number of researchers from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the KIOS Research Center comprise the research team from Cyprus that is participating in this project.

 

Article in Phileftheros Newspaper, 18/1/13. (Greek).

Project Official web site: http://facies.dia.uniroma3.it/

 

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With the financial support of the Prevention, Preparedness and Consequence Management of Terrorism and other Security-related Risks Programme European Commission - Directorate-General Home Affairs.

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