Resilience assessment of water quality sensor designs under cyber-physical attacks

Dionysios Nikolopoulos, Avi Ostfeld, Elad Salomons, Christos Makropoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Water distribution networks (WDNs) are critical infrastructure for the welfare of society. Due to their spatial extent and difficulties in deployment of security measures, they are vulnerable to threat scenarios that include the rising concern of cyber-physical attacks. To protect WDNs against different kinds of water contamination, it is customary to deploy water quality (WQ) monitoring sensors. Cyber-attacks on the monitoring system that employs WQ sensors combined with deliberate contamination events via backflow attacks can lead to severe disruptions to water delivery or even potentially fatal consequences for consumers. As such, the water sector is in immediate need of tools and methodologies that can support cyber-physical quality attack simulation and vulnerability assessment of the WQ monitoring system under such attacks. In this study we demonstrate a novel methodology to assess the resilience of placement schemes generated with the Threat Ensemble Vulnerability Assessment and Sensor Placement Optimization Tool (TEVA-SPOT) and evaluated under cyber-physical attacks simulated using the stress-testing platform RISKNOUGHT, using multidimensional metrics and resilience profile graphs. The results of this study show that some sensor designs are inherently more resilient than others, and this trait can be exploited in risk management practices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number647
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Contaminantwarning system
  • Cyber-physical attacks
  • Cyberphysical systems
  • Resilience
  • Riskmanagement
  • Sensor designs
  • Stress-testing
  • Water distribution systems
  • Water quality sensor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology


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