On a clear day this summer, security researcher Ang Cui boarded a boat headed to a government biosafety facility off the northeastern tip of Long Island. Cui’s security company, Red Balloon, will spend the next year studying how its Internet of Things threat-scanning tool performs on the building control systems of Plum Island Animal Disease Center. If successful, the project could provide a critical tool in the fight against vulnerabilities in embedded industrial systems and critical infrastructure.
“The island is only accessible via a ferry. The dock is protected by armed guards and I presume patrolled by the Coast Guard,” Cui says. Those protections, though, mean nothing to potential hackers. So Cui’s goal is to “help make the island’s cybersecurity as resilient as its physical security.”