Cyber security enters mixed reality

A new step in Airbus Innovations’ advanced cyber security capabilities is displayed this week at the Farnborough Airshow

Airbus Innovations’ role in protecting manufacturing operations against IT attacks and malware has taken a new step into the world of mixed reality.

At this week’s Farnborough Airshow, the HoloLens was used to assess a simulated malware attack on Airbus Innovations’ production environment subscale demonstrator.

Using one of its subscale production environment demonstrators for industrial cyber security, Airbus Innovations unveiled its application of Microsoft’s new HoloLens holographic computer headband at this week’s air show.

This exhibit illustrates how shop floor operators and engineers could be assisted in locating and fixing the impact of cyberattacks to a facility’s SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems.

Enhancing connections with security operations centres

“With today’s connected and digital industrial environment increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks, we are focusing on innovative solutions and capabilities for both factory environments and national infrastructure.”

Kevin JonesAirbus Innovations’ Head of Product and Cyber Security Research.

“From the perspective of a SOC (security operations centre) that monitors production sites or critical national infrastructure installations, it may be very difficult to locate what specifically has been affected on the shop floor,” explained Dr. Kevin Jones, Airbus Innovations’ Head of Product and Cyber Security Research.  “This is particularly true at a facility that may have hundreds or thousands of devices and systems, such as programmable logic controllers, for example.”

By using the HoloLens, on-site personnel at the facility can be guided by expert knowledge from the SOC to rapidly and accurately pinpoint what has been impacted by an attack on SCADA systems – thereby facilitating a solution to the problem.

To illustrate a production environment under threat, Airbus Innovations brought its subscale demonstrator to Farnborough. This platform represents a production line scenario, with a conveyor belt transporting metallic or plastic blocks to be selected and arranged by a robotic arm. For realism and accuracy, the demonstrator’s industrial control systems incorporate different types of sensors and actuators to detect and categorize the blocks during normal operations, while malware is introduced via a USB stick inserted into a programmable logic controller.

Mixed reality with the HoloLens

Airbus Innovations’ proof-of-concept solutions for attack detection and monitoring will be deployed in pilot form within Airbus during 2016.

Deploying the HoloLens, information from the SOC is presented in “augmented space,” being superimposed over the physical plant in front of the operator. Using hand gestures for full interaction, the operator can perform functions that normally are executed with a computer – clicking to bring up more information and loading applications to perform new functions and tasks, as examples.

The HoloLens use for the SCADA environment was developed by Airbus Innovations’ cyber security and data analytics research teams in partnership through a rapid-paced programme lead by Dr. Pablo Bermell Garcia, Engineering Informatics Technical Lead for data-driven technologies, taking five weeks from delivery of the new holographic computer headband to its debut at the Farnborough Airshow.

“Airbus Innovations already is leading the way in SCADA cyber security and monitoring,” Jones said. “Some of our proof-of-concept solutions for SOC monitoring and attack detection will be deployed in pilot form within the Airbus this year, while the HoloLens’ use opens the next dimension, enabling us to move into the incident response phase.”