Visualizing Cascading Failures in Critical Cyber Infrastructures

This paper explores the relationship between physical and cyber infrastructures, focusing on how threats and disruptions in physical infrastructures can cascade into failures in the cyber infrastructure. It also examines the challenges involved in organizing and managing massive amounts of critical infrastructure data that are geographically and logically disparate. To address these challenges, we have designed Cascade, a system for visualizing the cascading effects of physical infrastructure failures into the cyber infrastructure. Cascade provides situational awareness and shows how threats to physical infrastructures such as power, transportation and communications can affect the networked enterprises comprising the cyber infrastructure. Our approach applies the concept of punctualization from Actor-Network Theory as an organizing principle for disparate infrastructure data. In particular, the approach exposes the critical relationships between physical and cyber infrastructures, and enables infrastructure data to be depicted visually to maximize comprehension during disaster planning and crisis response activities.

Keywords: Cyber infrastructure, infrastructure dependencies, cascading failures, actor-network theory, situational awareness