A programmable logic controller (PLC) emulation methodology can dramatically reduce the cost of high-fidelity operational technology (OT) network emulation without compromising specific functionality. A PLC emulation methodology is developed as part of an ongoing effort at the University of New Mexico’s Institute for Space and Nuclear Power Studies (UNM-ISNPS) in collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) to develop an emulytic™ platform to support cybersecurity analyses of the instrumentation and control (I&C) systems of pressurized water reactors (PWRs). This methodology identifies and characterizes key physical and digital signatures of interest. The obtained and displayed digital signatures include the network response, traffic, and software version, while the selected physical signatures include the actuation response time and sampling time. An extensive validation analysis is performed to characterize the signatures of the real, hardware-based PLC and the emulated PLC. These signatures are then compared to quantify differences and identify optimum settings for the emulation fidelity.

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