The most remunerative business in the digital economy will be the creation of value chains for processing data, through the interconnection of processes, products, services, software, and things from multiple vendors on a growing scale. Fully-automated software and environments will evolve and morph during run-time, without the explicit control of software engineers.

The uptake of cloud services and IoT has raised the interest in combining together digital resources and components from multiple domains and locations, to create Cyber-Physical Systems (CPSs). This evolution is already supported by pervasive and capillary communication infrastructures, computing models, and software architectures. Unfortunately, security paradigms have not evolved at the same pace. As a matter of fact, the prevalent model today is still the security perimeter, which is applied to individual domains with loose or no integration at all. This raises very important security questions, concerning the overall behavior of the system (attestation and availability), the location of personal and sensitive data (sovereignty), the protection of software and valuable information (integrity), and, most of all, the ability to perform quick remediation and mitigation actions in case of new and ever more sophisticated attacks.

Even if cybersecurity appliances are constantly increasing their detection capabilities, they are usually deployed in vertical silos within each different administrative domain (e.g., cloud infrastructure, IoT device, enterprise, software repository). The lack of standard interfaces and common protocols hinders seamless composition of discrete cybersecurity appliances together [9, 38]. Indeed, today, cyber defense technologies, systems and applications often use proprietary software and commands to control system configurations. Most environments within a company or enterprise are comprised of hundreds of different types of cyber-defense devices.

Furthermore, the heterogeneity of ICT installations are progressively increasing the attack surface, fostering the raise of new attack models that join the more classical strategies like Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) and botnets. Also identity management and access control strategies need attention: even if they have already been largely developed and integrated into distributed systems, they can neither guarantee the integrity and dependability of the whole chain over time, nor tracking the propagation of private data and sensitive information along the service chain. Finally, the chain topology and composition are usually unknown to the end user, who cannot easily check whether service owners, security mechanisms (e.g., encryption, integrity), and confidentiality policies are compliant with his/her own requirements and expectations. This scenario definitely helps attackers, which leverage the scarce visibility over the different subsystems and the lack of suitable integrated processes which are able to correlate events and measurements originated from multiple domains.

To overcome the issues described above, the paper “An Autonomous Cybersecurity Framework for Next-generation Digital Service Chains” published on May 24, 2021 in the Journal of Network and Systems Management, proposes a new paradigm for managing cybersecurity in next-generation digital service chains. Link to full article and references in our publications page.

This introduction is part of the publication:
An Autonomous Cybersecurity Framework for Next-generation Digital Service Chains
Matteo Repetto, Domenico Striccoli, Giuseppe Piro, Alessandro Carrega, Gennaro Boggia & Raffaele Bolla
Journal of Network and Systems Management volume 29, Article number: 37 (2021)