National Test Bed Center for Critical Infrastructures

University-Industry Contribution for the Cyber Security of Electricity Distribution, Water Management and Health Services

Date: Issue 105 - April 2021

The “National Test Bed Center”, which will host studies to ensure the security of electricity distribution and water management infrastructures, was inaugurated with the cooperation of STM and Sakarya University.

The opening ceremony of the Critical Infrastructures National Test Bed Center was held on February 2nd. The related work to establish the center was initiated with the protocol signed between STM and SAU on October 31, 2019, within the framework of University-Industry cooperation. Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Dr. Ömer Fatih SAYAN, Deputy Governor of Sakarya Murat KARASU, Sakarya Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Ekrem YÜCE, Sakarya University Rector Prof. Fatih SAVAŞAN, STM General Manager Özgür GÜLERYÜZ, STM executives and university administration and academicians attended the ceremony which was held at the Faculty of Computer and Information Sciences of Sakarya University.

SAYAN: “We must be ready for cyberattacks against critical infrastructures.”

In his speech at the ceremony, Deputy Minister Dr. Ömer Fatih SAYAN mentioned that the problems that may arise in critical infrastructures can cause great harm to the security of the state and society, as well as to the economy, and the health and welfare of society and said that the information and communication infrastructure has a particular importance due to its connection with all other infrastructures. Stating that sectors with critical infrastructures are often targeted by cybercriminals, SAYAN noted that cyberattacks have the potential to disrupt the daily life of cities and the overall country and cause irreversible losses.

Deputy Minister SAYAN pointed out that the catastrophe scenarios built in the field of information technologies throughout the world have started to be applied more frequently and countries are trying to defeat each other through cyberattacks. “For this reason, taking the necessary precautions to protect critical infrastructures and sectors is as vital as maintaining 24-hour monitoring at the border as well as airspace with radar systems. For this, first of all, the communication infrastructure must be secure and the protection must start here. The Center for Intervention to National Cyber Incidents (USOM), within the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK), protects the digital borders of our country 24/7 like a defensive wall, with the support of our Ministry. We also observe the impact of our work in the field of cyber security from international indicators. According to the report of the International Telecommunication Union's Global Cyber Security Index published in 2019, our country has risen 23 places to 20th in the world compared to the previous year, and to 11th in Europe. Protection of critical infrastructures should not be considered just a national issue. We have witnessed that the developments that started with the capture of a small control system in cyber incidents in the recent past could affect the whole country. In recent years, centers in Georgia, Estonia, Iran and the US have experienced cyberattacks and thousands of people have been left without electricity. Attacks on energy centers could harm many countries. The consequences of the attacks towards the health system, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, will probably be irreparable. We, as the Ministry, consider the development of a sustainable domestic and national ecosystem in the field of information and communication technologies as a strategic goal in line with the National Technology Move initiated by our President, and we place importance on the activities performed in this field. Within this scope, the 5G project was developed. The interaction of 5G with vertical sectors hosting critical infrastructures becomes even more critical in ensuring the security of such infrastructures. In the field of R&D, the relationship between industry and universities should be developed, and these two should understand each other's needs and expectations, and the theoretical infrastructure of the academia and the innovation capabilities of companies should be aligned around a common goal.

The National Test Bed Center, established in cooperation with Sakarya University and STM, is a good example to this end. The capacity development for the security of critical infrastructures, academic studies becoming domestic and national concrete projects with university-industry cooperation, and contribution to increase the resilience of critical infrastructures regarding cyber security make us happy. It is exciting that the center will also turn out to be an R&D center. By modeling the academic studies in the real environment, the center will also increase the initiatives for domestic and national production in line with the 2023 goals. I wish the center to be beneficial and we congratulate those who contributed.”

SAVAŞAN: “We offer high value-added services to the sector.”

Expressing his satisfaction with the conclusion of the project which they have worked on for more than a year, Sakarya University Rector SAVAŞAN said, “I would like to thank those who contributed, especially Professor İbrahim ÖZÇELİK. One of the most important functions of universities has once again been realized at our university. This test bed is a first in Turkey and I believe it will meet the important need of the sector in terms of ensuring the security of critical infrastructure. By cooperating with STM, one of the leading defense industry companies, we had the opportunity to offer high value-added services to the sector.”

Stating that Sakarya University not only manages transformation in education with its innovative management culture, but also guides it, Rector SAVAŞAN added, “I would like to proudly say that Sakarya University is the inventor and the first practitioner of many innovations in the field of education. The +1 application has spread to the Turkish higher education system from this university. As a new SAU brand in 2018, we started industry courses and realized many innovations such as the Practice of Interest Areas, Student R&D Compliance project.”  

GÜLERYÜZ: “A concrete example of university-industry cooperation”

In the opening speech, STM General Manager Özgür GÜLERYÜZ stated that they have expanded their cyber security capabilities also for critical civilian areas and said, “Cyber security emerges as an important area also for the critical civil infrastructures to continue to function. We hereby launch our National Test Bed Center for the first time in our country, which will provide a test environment in order to make sure that services that may affect the social order and the flow of life are not interrupted in case of disruptions in electricity networks and water management and to ensure the cyber security of these infrastructures. By gaining this center to our country, which will allow both academic and sectoral studies, in cooperation with Sakarya University, we are proud to offer concrete University-Industry Cooperation and to fill an important gap. Our wish is to diversify our test bed centers by expanding this capability in our country to communication, transportation and power plants and to prepare and lay the groundwork also for the development of competitive products in this field.”

Following the opening speeches, the guests toured the National Test Bed Center.

Indigenization is at the Forefront

At the Test Bed Center, energy and water management systems are modeled at the initial stage. With the modeling of academic studies in a real environment, the aim is to expand the knowhow of the country and to increase initiatives in domestic and national production in parallel with the 2023 targets. The project is planned to focus on critical infrastructures which are very important within the scope of cyber security, the indigenization of the control systems, and the capability to maintain the security of these systems with national means