Using DETER for Real-time and Embedded Systems

One of the core objectives of the DETER Project is collaboration with researchers and developers of technology in particular domains of expertise, where the technology could benefit from the type of experimentation and testing facilities offered by DeterLab. One existing example is our  collaboration with the Pacific Northwest National Lab and the University of illinois developing a demonstration of Wide Area Situational Awareness experimental scenarios for the SmartGrid. A more recent example is collaboration in the area of real-time and embedded systems, the security testing needs of real-time and embedded systems, and use of the testing technology that we've developed on the DETER Project, and put into place in DeterLab.

Real-time and embedded systems are -- literally -- vitally important systems, and increasingly so as more aspects of human life are controlled by autonomous systems, that is, networked computers that mostly do their job without human supervision. However, the ability to do realistic and repeatable security testing of real-time and embedded systems has lagged behind the increase in importance and scale of their use. That's why we're very pleased to be starting a new collaboration with real time and embedded system experts, members of the Open Group's Real-Time and Embedded Security working group. They were seeking technologies that would enable repeatable testing of applications built using the MILS architecture, which is a framework and system software/hardware base for creating real time systems that use Multiple Independent Levels of Security to separate security-critical elements

Working group members, along with DETER project members, will be developing a plan to demonstrate real-time and embedded system security testing in DeterLab, using the MILS real-time security framework that is the focus of the working group's activities. We met working group members in Menlo Park in July, to work out an approach to MILS testing, define a roadmap for MILS/DeterLab demonstrations, and create a presentation for the Open Group's semi-annual conference in Washington DC.

At that conference, DETER's Clifford Neuman made a presentation on the use of DeterLab for testing real-time and embedded system security, using both familiar real-time systems like avionics, and also more recent real-time systems that are part of the emerging smart grid for energy distribution and control. Particularly for the smart grid, DeterLab-based experiments are well-suited to evaluate the response of a real-time system's embedded application software, in terms of the resiliency of a distributed system in which some subset of the nodes may have been compromised or where communication has been impacted through external denial of service attacks.

A PDF of Cliff's presentation is available here, and in the DETER Project's document repository.