The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology has recently launched a collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to advance cyber security research in the UAE.
The ultimate objective of the study is to ensure better cyber security on critical infrastructure sites in the UAE and globally by using an innovative approach to assess potential vulnerabilities against cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure. Using Abu Dhabi's power system as a case study, the research will undertake a multi-layered methodology, which will ensure the development of a knowledge map of the power system and its shortcomings.
Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh, President, Masdar Institute, said, "Through Masdar Institute's ongoing research efforts, greater emphasis is being placed on the protection of critical infrastructure sites by enhancing cyber security. This project will help to develop the Institute into a knowledge centre for cyber security in the UAE and promote Masdar Institute and its Institute Centre for Smart and Sustainable Systems (iSmart) as a leader in cyber security research. The collaboration with MIT will also help to identify competency gaps, generate critical mass between the faculty and develop human capital in the niche area of cyber security."
The collaboration will see Masdar Institute and MIT undertake research involving Abu Dhabi's power system and will focus on using a novel and comprehensive approach to identify and assess the different sources of cyber gaps in a critical infrastructure system. The research will also investigate the significance of each of these challenges to the integrity of the physical system. This collaboration is a project of the MIT Technology and Development Program.
The principal investigators of the project are Dr. Sameh El Khatib, Assistant Professor in the Masdar Institute Department of Engineering Systems and Management and member of iSmart, and Dr. Nazli Choucri, Professor of Political Science at the MIT School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and Principal Investigator and Director of the MIT/Harvard initiative in Explorations in Cyber International Relations (ECIR).
"Our research aims to contribute to the development of cyber security as an emerging field of scientific inquiry. To date, there have been few robust scientific investigations that provide comprehensive evidence on the sources and consequences of cyber security. The overarching goal of the project is to analyse and define the science behind cyber security in an effort to provide substantial and concrete scientific data related to the weaknesses of critical infrastructure and how to better protect them," said Dr. El Khatib.
The project is due to run for two years. At the end of this two year period, it is hoped that data from the comprehensive analysis of Abu Dhabi's power system could be compared against data from the projects running concurrently in New York and Singapore to develop a comprehensive knowledge map, capable of being applied to critical infrastructure worldwide.