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Digital Twin-Based Cyber-Attack Detection Framework for Cyber-Physical Manufacturing Systems



Efe Balta, Michael Pease, James Moyne, Kira Barton, Dawn Tilbury


Smart manufacturing (SM) systems utilize run-time data to improve productivity via intelligent decision-making and analysis mechanisms on both machine and system levels. The increased adoption of cyber-physical systems in SM leads to the comprehensive framework of cyber-physical manufacturing systems (CPMS) where data-enabled decision-making mechanisms are coupled with cyber-physical resources on the plant floor. Due to their cyber-physical nature, CPMS are susceptible to cyber-attacks that may cause harm to the manufacturing system, products, or even the human workers involved in this context. Therefore, detecting cyber-attacks efficiently and timely is a crucial step toward implementing and securing high-performance CPMS in practice. This paper addresses two key challenges to CPMS cyber-attack detection. The first challenge is distinguishing expected anomalies in the system from cyber-attacks. The second challenge is the identification of cyber-attacks during the transient response of CPMS due to closed-loop controllers. Digital twin (DT) technology emerges as a promising solution for providing additional insights into the physical process (twin) by leveraging run-time data, models, and analytics. In this work, we propose a DT framework for detecting cyber-attacks in CPMS during controlled transient behavior as well as expected anomalies of the physical process. We present a DT framework and provide details on structuring the architecture to support cyber-attack detection. Additionally, we present an experimental case study on off-the-shelf 3D printers to detect cyber-attacks utilizing the proposed DT framework to illustrate the effectiveness of our proposed approach. Note to Practitioners —This work is motivated by developing a general-purpose and extensible digital twin-enabled cyber-attack detection framework for manufacturing systems. Existing works in the field consider specialized attack scenarios and models that may not be extensible in practical manufacturing scenarios. We utilize digital twin (DT) technology as a key enabler to develop a systematic and extensible framework where we identify the abnormality of a resource and detect if the abnormality is due to an attack or an expected anomaly. We provide several remarks on how our proposed framework can extend existing industrial control systems (ICS) and can accommodate further extensions. The presented DTs utilize data-driven machine learning models, physics-based models, and subject matter expert knowledge to perform detection and differentiation tasks in the context of expected anomalies and model-based controllers that control the manufacturing process between multiple setpoints. We utilize a model predictive controller on an off-the-shelf 3D printer to run the process, and stage anomalies and cyber-attacks that are successfully detected by the proposed framework.
IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering


Cyberattack, Process control, Manufacturing, Monitoring, Scalability, Industrial Internet of Things, Digital twins


Balta, E. , Pease, M. , Moyne, J. , Barton, K. and Tilbury, D. (2023), Digital Twin-Based Cyber-Attack Detection Framework for Cyber-Physical Manufacturing Systems, IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering, [online],, (Accessed May 21, 2024)


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Created February 23, 2023, Updated March 3, 2023