Such networked control systems are essential pathways that connect and coordinate activities between computers and physical devices, but because they often rely on wireless or Internet connections they are vulnerable to cyberattacks, the researchers at North Carolina State University said.
The "Flame" and "Stuxnet" viruses are examples of costly, high-profile attacks carried out on networked control systems in recent years, they said.
The researchers said they have developed a software algorithm that can detect when any single unit in a networked control system has been compromised by a cyberattack and isolate it to protect the rest of the system and allow it to maintain operations.
"In addition, our security algorithm can be incorporated directly into the code used to operate existing distributed control systems, with minor modifications," electrical and computer engineering Professor Mo-Yuen Chow said. "It would not require a complete overhaul of existing systems."