Irfan Ahmed, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science, has received a 2019 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award presented by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), a consortium of 125 Ph.D.-granting institutions. These competitive research awards provide seed money for junior faculty members and often attract additional funding from other sources. Ahmed is one of the 36 researchers selected from a pool of 167 applications from ORAU’s member institutions. He is only the second researcher from the university to receive this award since 2012.
This award will support Ahmed’s research to develop digital forensic techniques for industrial control systems (ICS) used to monitor and control pipelines, water systems, the power grid and other critical infrastructure. As cyber attacks on these systems increase, digital forensics investigation is crucial to answering many questions about these attacks and is essential to national security. Ahmed will work with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory on this project.
“The current forensic capabilities are insufficient to investigate cyberattacks on ICS environments because these environments are significantly different from traditional IT systems,” Ahmed said. “They are connected with physical processes, have the critical requirement of high availability, and use resource-constrained computing devices, legacy operating systems and proprietary network protocols.”