Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras have developed an algorithm-powered novel strategy to mitigate disruptions in critical networks such as air traffic control and power distribution during a targeted attack.
According to officials, with Internet of Things (IoT)-based technologies being widely implemented across societies, creating networks that are resilient to such attacks is of paramount importance. The work has been peer-reviewed and published in the noted international journal "Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications".
"The terror attacks of 11th September 2001, all of which happened only on one day targeting a single country resulted in the entire airline industry coming to a standstill. Such threats are a reminder that in today’s highly interconnected world, there exists a high risk of one adverse event leading to the disruption of the entire network. Air traffic, road traffic, power distribution infrastructure and even social media platforms are all examples of highly connected networks and are, therefore, highly vulnerable to targeted attacks," Karthik Raman, Core Member, Robert Bosch Centre for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (RBCDSAI), IIT Madras, said.
"A variety of technological networks form the backbone of modern world infrastructure, and it is very essential to build safeguards to protect these networks against both failures and targeted attacks," he added.
The strategy developed by the researchers works to make networks more robust through a judicious re-wiring of a given network to reduce their vulnerability.
The strategy is implemented through an algorithm which suggests a way to build spare capacity in the network so that if one node (one entity linked to many entities) of the network is attacked, the traffic of the affected node is routed through this spare capacity as a result of which the network keeps functioning.
"This spare capacity can be compared, in simple terms, to a spare tyre kept in a car. The dormant spare capacity (spare tyre) is used if any of the four tyres (nodes) in the vehicle becomes inoperable during a journey. The algorithm takes a network whose spare capacity has to be determined as an input and gives out a modified network with added spare capacity, the cost of spare capacity for the network etc. Importantly, the algorithm also optimizes the cost associated with adding spare capacity," he said.
The strategy developed by IIT Madras has been tested on two infrastructure networks of air traffic and power distribution.
Sai Saranga Das, student at IIT Madras and lead author of the study said, "Through this study, we have addressed the interplay between the addition of dormant spare capacity in a network and the associated capital and operational costs. Our future course of study would be to apply our algorithm in the context of biological networks to gain potentially incisive insights about them.”
"It was found that the algorithm increased the robustness of these networks to targeted attacks. The algorithm was also highly effective in increasing the robustness of ‘canonical scale-free networks,’ which are representative of many real-world networks when compared to existing strategies to mitigate targeted attacks on these networks," he added.