695.615.81 - Cyber Physical Systems Security

Fall 2023


The age of Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) has officially begun. Not long ago, these systems were separated into distinct domains, cyber and physical. Today, the rigid dichotomy between domains no longer exists. Cars have programmable interfaces, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) roam the skies, and critical infrastructure and medical devices are now fully reliant on computer control. With the increased use of CPS and the parallel rise in cyber-attack capabilities, it is imperative that new methods for securing these systems be developed. This course will investigate key concepts behind CPS including: control systems, protocol analysis, behavioral modeling, and Intrusion Detection System (IDS) development. The course will be comprised of theory, computation, and projects to better enhance student learning and engagement . The course will begin with the mathematics of continuous and digital control systems and then shift the focus to the complex world of CPS, where both a general overview for the different domains (Industrial Control, Transportation, Medical Devices, etc.) and more detailed case studies will be provided . Students will complete a number of projects, both exploiting security vulnerabilities and developing security solutions for UAVs and industrial controllers. Several advanced topics will be introduced including behavioral analysis and resilient CPS.Course Notes: There are no prerequisite courses; however, students will encounter many concepts and technologies in a short period of time. Student should have a basic understanding of python programming, networking, matrices, and Windows and Linux operating systems.


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Zachary Birnbaum


Course Structure

The course materials are divided into modules which can be accessed by clicking Course Modules on the course menu. A module will have several sections including the overview, content, readings, discussions, and assignments. You are encouraged to preview all sections of the module before starting. Most modules run for a period of seven (7) days, exceptions are noted in the Course Outline. You should regularly check the Calendar and Announcements for assignment due dates.

Course Topics

Introduction & Background:
Cyber Physical Systems Overview
Continuous Time Control Systems
State Space Description of Control Systems
Simple Estimation Theory

Security Case Studies:
Cyber Physical Systems Transportation Sector - UAVs
Cyber Physical Systems Industrial and Manufacturing Sector - PLCs

Advanced Security Topics:
Behavioral Analysis & Modeling
Resilient Systems & Defense in Depth Architectures 

Course Goals

Provide students with the necessary technical and mathematical background to understand modern cyber physical systems.
Provide students with the ability to secure different types of cyber physical systems as well as identify their vulnerabilities.

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)


There are no required textbooks for the course

Student Coursework Requirements

Homework Assignments & Discussions - 20% Quizzes - 20% Projects - 40% Cyber Physical Systems Security Final Paper - 20%

Grading Policy

100-98= A +
97-94= A
93-90= A−
89-87= B+
86-83= B
82-80= B−
79-77= C+
76-73= C
72-70= C−
69-67= D+
66-63= D
<63= F

Academic Policies

Deadlines for Adding, Dropping and Withdrawing from Courses

Students may add a course up to one week after the start of the term for that particular course. Students may drop courses according to the drop deadlines outlined in the EP academic calendar (https://ep.jhu.edu/student-services/academic-calendar/). Between the 6th week of the class and prior to the final withdrawal deadline, a student may withdraw from a course with a W on their academic record. A record of the course will remain on the academic record with a W appearing in the grade column to indicate that the student registered and withdrew from the course.

Academic Misconduct Policy

All students are required to read, know, and comply with the Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences (KSAS) / Whiting School of Engineering (WSE) Procedures for Handling Allegations of Misconduct by Full-Time and Part-Time Graduate Students.

This policy prohibits academic misconduct, including but not limited to the following: cheating or facilitating cheating; plagiarism; reuse of assignments; unauthorized collaboration; alteration of graded assignments; and unfair competition. Course materials (old assignments, texts, or examinations, etc.) should not be shared unless authorized by the course instructor. Any questions related to this policy should be directed to EP’s academic integrity officer at ep-academic-integrity@jhu.edu.

Students with Disabilities - Accommodations and Accessibility

Johns Hopkins University values diversity and inclusion. We are committed to providing welcoming, equitable, and accessible educational experiences for all students. Students with disabilities (including those with psychological conditions, medical conditions and temporary disabilities) can request accommodations for this course by providing an Accommodation Letter issued by Student Disability Services (SDS). Please request accommodations for this course as early as possible to provide time for effective communication and arrangements.

For further information or to start the process of requesting accommodations, please contact Student Disability Services at Engineering for Professionals, ep-disability-svcs@jhu.edu.

Student Conduct Code

The fundamental purpose of the JHU regulation of student conduct is to promote and to protect the health, safety, welfare, property, and rights of all members of the University community as well as to promote the orderly operation of the University and to safeguard its property and facilities. As members of the University community, students accept certain responsibilities which support the educational mission and create an environment in which all students are afforded the same opportunity to succeed academically. 

For a full description of the code please visit the following website: https://studentaffairs.jhu.edu/policies-guidelines/student-code/

Classroom Climate

JHU is committed to creating a classroom environment that values the diversity of experiences and perspectives that all students bring. Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Fostering an inclusive climate is important. Research and experience show that students who interact with peers who are different from themselves learn new things and experience tangible educational outcomes. At no time in this learning process should someone be singled out or treated unequally on the basis of any seen or unseen part of their identity. 
If you have concerns in this course about harassment, discrimination, or any unequal treatment, or if you seek accommodations or resources, please reach out to the course instructor directly. Reporting will never impact your course grade. You may also share concerns with your program chair, the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, or the Office of Institutional Equity. In handling reports, people will protect your privacy as much as possible, but faculty and staff are required to officially report information for some cases (e.g. sexual harassment).

Course Auditing

When a student enrolls in an EP course with “audit” status, the student must reach an understanding with the instructor as to what is required to earn the “audit.” If the student does not meet those expectations, the instructor must notify the EP Registration Team [EP-Registration@exchange.johnshopkins.edu] in order for the student to be retroactively dropped or withdrawn from the course (depending on when the "audit" was requested and in accordance with EP registration deadlines). All lecture content will remain accessible to auditing students, but access to all other course material is left to the discretion of the instructor.