Joining hands for cybersecurity

13 January 2016 | Research
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The University has been awarded almost $1 million through three NUS Computing and NUS Mechanical Engineering projects, which aim to create a more resilient global cyberspace, under the inaugural Singapore-UK Joint Grant Call for Cybersecurity 2.

The University has been awarded almost $1 million through three NUS Computing and NUS Mechanical Engineering projects, which aim to create a more resilient global cyberspace, under the inaugural Singapore-UK Joint Grant Call for Cybersecurity Research. The results of the $5.1 million joint call by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and Singapore’s National Research Foundation were announced in December 2015. The grant will fund a total of six projects over three years.

The call, launched in May 2015, seeks to strengthen knowledge and capabilities in cybersecurity and foster closer collaboration in this area between researchers of both countries. Six successful proposals were chosen out of 22, which were jointly evaluated by cybersecurity experts from Singapore and the UK. The chosen projects cover research areas in Intrusions, Data Analytics, Human Factors, and Sectors and Applications.

Two of the three awarded projects were from NUS Computing.

The “Security and Privacy in Smart Grid Systems: Countermeasure and Formal Verification” project is led by NUS Computing Associate Professor Dong Jin Song with University of Oxford Professor Andrew Martin. The project intends to analyse and enhance the security and privacy in smart grids — electrical grids that manage electricity demand in a more sustainable and economic manner. In these grids, data has to be privacy-sensitive as personal information can be inferred from energy usage traces. For example, consumers may not want their energy providers to be able to guess when their houses are unoccupied based on the amount of energy being used at any point in time.

NUS Computing Professor Joxan Jaffar and University of Kent Professor Andy King’s project, “Vulnerability Discovery using Abduction and Interpolation”, is about performing analysis over machine code to find security vulnerabilities. It aims to develop theoretical foundations as well as practical techniques for security engineers, equipping them with automatic tools that will detect security vulnerabilities in binary code. Currently, security engineers often cannot determine vulnerability points in a program as they are not privy to the source code.

The third project, “Machine Learning, Robust Optimisation and Verification: Creating Synergistic Capabilities in Cybersecurity Research” will be spearheaded by NUS Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Xu Huan and Imperial College Professor Michael Huth. It aims to provide decision-makers a way to represent the systems and services in a principled manner, so as to facilitate good operational or strategic decisions on cybersecurity. The project will also investigate new approaches for modelling and optimisation by which cybersecurity of systems, processes and infrastructures can be better assessed, monitored and controlled in the face of unpredictable situations. It will also focus on the areas of privacy as new forms of privacy-preserving data analytics will be created, and new approaches to decision support that respect privacy considerations are being developed.