The Network and Systems Engineering Cyber Security research group focuses on three key areas:
- Identity and Access Management
How we determine who can access a system and when that access is acceptable.
- System Security, with an emphasis on the Internet of Things
New applications enable uses to use the data in their devices safely
- Usable Security
Finally, Usable Security investigates the intersection between application security and human factors: how can we build secure systems that users want to use rather that looking for ways around them?
All of these are increasingly important, as they are of great societal and economic significance. As cybersecurity is relevant to all disciplines and a must for every professional, whether we are talking about the health industry or in the economic domain where new e-commerce business models arise continuously. That is why the research group works together with all the research platforms, but primarily with Good Governance for a Safe World. This requires multidisciplinary research combined with the expertise from, for example, legal specialists and public administration officials.
Examples of practice-based research
Mobile communications became an essential part of our human interactions, contributing to the economic and social development of the world population. From developed to developing countries, mobile communications is woven into communicative practices of millions of people everywhere, shaped and adjusted by people and organizations according to their needs. Previous generations of mobile networks have delivered communications services such as voice, messaging and data, using respectively 1G, 2G, 3G & 4G. Mobile communications has become one of the most important technology in the modern world. But the demand for data throughput and information exchange capabilities have increased beyond people’s needs.
The 5th generation, 5G NR, is expected to transform the future society, by enabling pervasive computerization of various physical objects with sensors, controller and transmitter. This principle is called the Internet of Things (IoT). The foreseen adoption of 5G NR raises security and privacy concerns. Indeed each previous iteration of mobile communications protocol faced various security and privacy issues. Furthermore the security and privacy results from the previous mobile communications set a dubious scene for the 5th generation. The Research Group Network and Systems Engineering, part of the Centre of Expertise Cyber Security, decided to investigate signal communications from a security and privacy approach including previous mobile communications and explore the 5th generation of mobile communication protocols.
Health careThe research group studies how the use of smartphones connected to smart devices like blood pressure monitors and scales can be optimised for both patients and their doctors. The limiting condition here is that patient privacy is guaranteed and personal and private data only shared with the treating physician.
The research group studies information ‘leaked’ in the market by IoT devices. Even if information cannot be read directly from a device due to encryption, there is still much information that can be accessed based on the data traffic. For example, if we monitor the rough data traffic to and from door sensors and see that there is indeed a flow of data, we can assume that the sensors are in use.
Trusted computing in general deals with making sure that the systems that you interact with are trustworthy. Does the hardware match what you ordered from the supplier, or has a malicious actor managed to compromise the supply chain and insert some components that spy on you, or exfiltrate your data? Can you be sure that the firmware that controls your network or graphics adapter, or even your power supply, has not been modified? What about the boot loader and the operating system kernel? There are a number of different steps you can take to make sure you can trust the system you provide your secrets to: Verified and measured boot processes, trusted platform modules and remote attestation, and trusted execution environments. In desktop and server environments, these things are approaching maturity, but in the IoT space, there is still room for improvement. We investigate what is currently being done in commodity IoT devices, and see what can be done with available systems suitable for deployment into the Internet of Things.