Security of Global Undersea Networks: Models, Defenses, and Policy Mechanisms

Saurabh Amin, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Nazli Choucri, Political Science

Amin and Choucri’s research focused on the security and survivability of submarine fiber optic networks. Undersea networks are highly structured and widely distributed systems that play a critical role in the transmission of global communications. Given the “security threats, periodic attacks, random faults, and natural events,” ensuring it’s survivability has become a source of major concern.

The goal of this project is to create robust foundations for an integrated technology-policy approach to examine the cyber-physical security and sustainability of critical global infrastructures. Amin and Chourci used a multidisciplinary research design consisting of:

  • analytical methods for network representations of physical infrastructure and information flow patterns, and identification of critical control points
  • empirical mapping of ownership structures and operational governance mechanisms
  • game-theoretic modeling to analyze the effectiveness of defense investments in an adversarial environment and to assess network security risks
  • analysis of security defenses and policy mechanisms for risk management under alternative informational and incentive structures
  • impact assessment of the diverse international regimes and legal systems that govern global seas

The researchers developed algorithms for strategic positioning of sensing resources. They also developed a cross-disciplinary, multi-method approach for the identification and analysis of long-chain of information and communications technology, infrastructure and services, and their providers.

Multiple papers on this research are pending publication, and the project led to a number of unexpected extensions and ideas for future research. An undergrad, a Master’s student, and two PhD students, including Social and Engineering Systems student Manxi Wu, were involved in this research.

MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Cambridge, MA 02139-4307