Building Accountable Systems

Project Description

With the rapid deployment of digital systems into all aspects of daily life, the need to understand their unwanted actions grows. As Cyber-physical systems might harm people, and information systems might compromise their assets, they should be accountable. From our experience, it is inherently impractical to specify all legal interactions of these systems, which means that the possibility of illegal interactions cannot be excluded at design time.  Hence, we need to be prepared for failures of the system; and therefore need accountability mechanisms that help us identify the root cause for such a failure, both to  eliminate the underlying (technical) problem and to assign blame.

Research Directions

We are working on approaches for Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS), such as diagnostic systems for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), and microservice-based architectures that aid in detecting unwanted events at runtime and attributing them to misbehaving system parts or persons. This research aims to tackle the following topics:

  • Building generic frameworks and implementations to operationalize causality (as an enabler to accountability). These frameworks tackle the efficiency and scalability of automated causal reasoning. They also consider reusable, practical domain-specific approaches to modeling and contextualization of unwanted events.
  • Building methods to advocate on the origin and the right degree of abstraction of models describing causality and the requirements for the degree of abstraction of logging.
  • Building methodologies that guide that considers the above to design accountable systems.

Projects

This research is being conducted as part of the following past and on-going projects:

  1. TUM Living Lab Connected Mobility (https://tum-llcm.de/) : a project funded by the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Technology (StMWi) through the Center Digitisation. We conducted a mapping study of the accountability literature and implemented different causality algorithms. Furthermore, we proposed a framework that analyzes flight logs generated by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) to find their failure's root causes automatically.
  2. Brainloop: We studied the problems related to the security of logging and automated threat modeling within modern cloud systems.   
  3. Design Paradigms for Societal-Scale Cyber-Physical Systems funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) under grant no. PR1266/3-1, where we investigate two main research questions: 1) How to combine the causal models of multiple agents into a composite model to reason over their interaction? 2) How can we effectively and efficiently infer and reason about causality?

Software

As part of our research in the different projects, we open-sourced a set of reasoning tools to implement our approach.

  • HP2SAT 1.0-  a library to check actual causality according to the modified Halpern-Pearl definition of causality 
  • HP2Opt- a Java Library that can model and solve binary causality inference questions
    using optimization solving.
  • extractr  - a tool to transform attack and fault trees to causal models
  • Attack Graph Generator-  automatic generation of attack graphs for micro-services architecture 
  • Actual Causality Canvas  an interactive platform for causal modeling and causal checking

Publications

2021

  • Biebl, Bianca; Kacianka, Severin; Unni, Anirudh; Trende, Alexander; Rieger, Jochem W.; Lüdtke, Andreas; Pretschner, Alexander; Bengler, Klaus: A Causal Model of Intersection-Related Collisions for Drivers With and Without Visual Field Loss. In: HCI International 2021 - Late Breaking Papers: HCI Applications in Health, Transport, and Industry. Springer International Publishing, 2021 more…
  • Gogoll, Jan; Zuber, Niina; Kacianka, Severin; Greger, Timo; Pretschner, Alexander; Nida-Rümelin, Julian: Ethics in the Software Development Process: from Codes of Conduct to Ethical Deliberation. Philosophy & Technology, 2021 more…
  • Ibrahim, Amjad; Kyriakopoulos, Stavros; Pretschner, Alexander: Causality-based accountability mechanisms for socio-technical systems. Journal of Responsible Technology 7-8, 2021, 100016 more…
  • Kacianka, Severin; Pretschner, Alexander: Designing Accountable Systems. Proceedings of the 2021 ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency, ACM, 2021 more…
  • Poechhacker, Nikolaus; Kacianka, Severin: Algorithmic Accountability in Context. Socio-Technical Perspectives on Structural Causal Models. Frontiers in Big Data 3, 2021 more…
  • Pretschner, Alexander; Zuber, Niina; Gogoll, Jan; Kacianka, Severin; Nida-Rümelin, Julian: Ethik in der agilen Software-Entwicklung. Informatik Spektrum, 2021 more…

2020

  • Ibrahim Amjad; Klesel Tobias; Zibaei Ehsan; Kacianka Severin; Pretschner Alexander: Actual Causality Canvas: A General Framework for Explanation-Based Socio-Technical Constructs. Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications 325 (ECAI 2020), 2020, 2978-2985 more…
  • Ibrahim, Amjad; Pretschner, Alexander: From Checking to Inference: Actual Causality Computations as Optimization Problems. In: Automated Technology for Verification and Analysis. Springer International Publishing, 2020 more…
  • Ibrahim, Amjad; Rehwald, Simon; Scemama, Antoine; Andres, Florian; Pretschner, Alexander: Causal Model Extraction from Attack Trees to Attribute Malicious Insider Attacks. In: Graphical Models for Security. Springer International Publishing, 2020 more…

2019

  • Ibrahim, Amjad; Bozhinoski, Stevica; Pretschner, Alexander: Attack graph generation for microservice architecture. Proceedings of the 34th ACM/SIGAPP Symposium on Applied Computing - SAC '19, ACM Press, 2019 more…
  • Ibrahim, Amjad; Kacianka, Severin; Pretschner, Alexander; Hartsell, Charles; Karsai, Gabor: Practical Causal Models for Cyber-Physical Systems. In: Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Springer International Publishing, 2019 more…
  • Zieglmeier, Valentin; Kacianka, Severin; Hutzelmann, Thomas; Pretschner, Alexander: A real-time remote IDS testbed for connected vehicles. Proceedings of the 34th ACM/SIGAPP Symposium on Applied Computing - SAC '19, ACM Press, 2019 more…

2018

  • Zibaei, Ehsan; Banescu, Sebastian; Pretschner, Alexander: Diagnosis of Safety Incidents for Cyber-Physical Systems: A UAV Example. 2018 3rd International Conference on System Reliability and Safety (ICSRS), IEEE, 2018 more…

2017

  • Cârlan, Carmen; Gallina, Barbara; Kacianka, Severin; Breu, Ruth: Arguing on Software-Level Verification Techniques Appropriateness. In: Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Springer International Publishing, 2017 more…
  • Dieber, Bernhard; Breiling, Benjamin; Taurer, Sebastian; Kacianka, Severin; Rass, Stefan; Schartner, Peter: Security for the Robot Operating System. Robotics and Autonomous Systems 98, 2017, 192-203 more…
  • Kacianka, Severin; Beckers, Kristian; Kelbert, Florian; Kumari, Prachi: How Accountability is Implemented and Understood in Research Tools. In: Product-Focused Software Process Improvement. Springer International Publishing, 2017 more…
  • Rehwald, Simon; Ibrahim, Amjad; Beckers, Kristian; Pretschner, Alexander: ACCBench: A Framework for Comparing Causality Algorithms. Electronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science 259, 2017, 16-30 more…

2016

  • Ahmadvand, Mohsen; Ibrahim, Amjad: Requirements Reconciliation for Scalable and Secure Microservice (De)composition. 2016 IEEE 24th International Requirements Engineering Conference Workshops (REW), IEEE, 2016 more…
  • Bernhard Dieber; Severin Kacianka; Stefan Rass; Peter Schartner: Application-level security for ROS-based applications. International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IEEE, 2016 more…
  • Ibrahim, Amjad and Banescu, Sebastian: StIns4CS: A State Inspection Tool for C\#. Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Workshop on Software PROtection, ACM, 2016, 61--71 more…
  • Severin Kacianka; Florian Kelbert; Alexander Pretschner: Towards a Unified Model of Accountability Infrastructures. Proceedings First Workshop on Causal Reasoning for Embedded and safety-critical Systems Technologies (CREST 2016), Open Publishing Association, 2016, 40-54 more…

2015

  • Kacianka, Severin; Hellwagner Hermann: Adaptive video streaming for UAV networks. Proceedings of the 7th ACM International Workshop on Mobile Video, 2015, 25-30 more…