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Wydział Matematyki, Informatyki i Mechaniki Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego

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Gry, mechanizmy i sieci społ.


Disinformation attacks on cities

Prelegent: Marcin Waniek

2021-04-29 10:15

Disinformation continues to raise concerns due to its increasing threat to society. Nevertheless, a disinformation-based attack on critical infrastructure has never been studied to date. In this line of work we consider two possible attack scenarios. In the first scenario, we consider urban traffic networks and focus on fake information that manipulates drivers' decisions to create congestion at a city scale by persuading drivers to move either towards or away from a given location. We prove that maximizing disruption is computationally intractable, implying that the adversary has no choice but to settle for suboptimal heuristics. We analyze one such heuristic, and simulate the results of an attack on the city of Chicago to show that it can lead to severe traffic disruption. In the second scenario, we consider manipulating the behavior of energy consumers by sending fake discount notifications, encouraging them to shift their consumption into the peak-demand period. Using Greater London as a case study, we show that such disinformation can indeed lead to unwitting consumers synchronizing their energy-usage patterns, and result in blackouts on a city-scale if the grid is heavily loaded. Our findings demonstrate that in an era when disinformation can be weaponized, system vulnerabilities arise not only from the hardware and software of critical infrastructure, but also from the behavior of the system users.