Institute for Software Research
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


Rapid Mission Assurance Assessment via
Sociotechnical Modeling and Simulation

Michael Jay Lanham

May 2015

Ph.D. Thesis (COS)


Keywords: Mission Assurance, Resilience, Assessment, Cyberspace Operations, Cyber, Organization Resilience, Rapid Modeling, Agent Based Model, ABM, Simulation, Modeling and Simulation

How do organizations rapidly assess command-level effects of cyber attacks? Leaders need a way of assuring themselves that their organization, people, and information technology can continue their missions in a contested cyber environment. To do this, leaders should: 1) require assessments be more than analogical, anecdotal or simplistic snapshots in time; 2) demand the ability to rapidly model their organizations; 3) identify their organization's structural vulnerabilities; and 4) have the ability to forecast mission assurance scenarios. Using text mining to build agent based dynamic network models of information processing organizations, I examine impacts of contested cyber environments on three common focus areas of information assurance–confidentiality, integrity, and availability. I find that assessing impacts of cyber attacks is a nuanced affair dependent on the nature of the attack, the nature of the organization and its missions, and the nature of the measurements. For well-manned information processing organizations, many attacks are in the nuisance range and that only multipronged or severe attacks cause meaningful failure. I also find that such organizations can design for resiliency and provide guidelines in how to do so.

375 pages

Thesis Committee:
Kathleen M. Carley (Chair)
Virgil D. Gligor
Jürgen Pfeffer
Robert Elder (George Mason University)
John Grahman (United States Military Academy)

William Scherlis, Director, Institute for Software Research
Andrew W. Moore, Dean, School of Computer Science

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