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Some Current Cybersecurity Research in Europe

  • Mehmet Ufuk Çag̃layan
Open Access
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 821)

Abstract

We present a brief summary of the papers that were presented at the Security Workshop 2018 of the International Symposium on Computer and Information Sciences (ISCIS) that was held on February 26, 2018 at Imperial College, London. These papers are primarily based on several research projects funded by the European Commission. The subjects that are covered include the cybersecurity of the Internet of Things (IoT), the security of networked health systems that are used to provide health services, the security of mobile telephony, and the security of software itself. The papers include overall presentations project objectives, plans and achievements, and their specific research findings.

Keywords

Cybersecurity European Commission E-health User requirements Cryptography IoT Network attacks Attack detection Random Neural Network System reliability Cognitive Packet Routing Block-chains 

1 Introduction

The International Symposia on Computer and Information Sciences (ISCIS) were started by Erol Gelenbe in 1986 in Turkey, and over the years they have been held in Turkey, France, the USA, the UK, and Poland. Examples of ISCIS proceedings [3, 13, 14, 40, 41, 44, 45], include research on a wide range of topics in Computer Science and Engineering, and have typically been published by Springer Verlag in recent years. This first ISCIS 2018 Symposium breaks the tradition and for the first time specializes on Cybersecurity, which has been my own major area of research for many years [5, 18, 69].

Cybersecurity has now come to the forefront of our interests and concern in Computer Science and Engineering, and in 2017 the European Union published its recommendation for security and privacy. In addition, both the lack of security and the techniques used to defend networks increase the energy consumption in computer systems and networks [34], resulting in an increase of their \(CO^2\) impact and of their operating costs [20, 34, 67]. Thus the number of research projects funded by the European Commission in this field has significantly increased, and these Proceedings [23] present some of the current trends and outcomes of this research.

These Proceedings contain a series of papers regarding research undertaken throughout Europe on Cybersecurity, including five recent projects funded by the European Commission:
  • KONFIDO on the security of communications and data transfers for interconnected European national or regional health services,

  • GHOST regarding the security of IoT systems for the home, and the design of secure IoT home gateways,

  • SerIoT on the Cybersecurity of IoT systems in general with a range of applications in supply chains, smart cities, and other areas,

  • NEMESYS concerning the security of mobile networks, and

  • SDK4ED concerning the optimisation of software for energy consumption, security and computation time.

It also includes research results from the previous NEMESYS project [4, 36, 37] and the new SDK4ED project of the European Commission. This symposium’s main organiser developed early work on Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks [51] and proposed to use the Cognitive Packet Network routing protocol (CPN) [43] as a way to detect DDoS, counter-attack by tracing the attacking traffic upstream, and to use CPN’s ACK packets to give “drop orders” to upstream routers that convey the attack [51, 73]. This approach was evaluated to detect worm attacks and to forward the users’ traffic on routes avoiding infected nodes [77, 78], and continued with the study of software viruses [28], the security of cyber-physical systems [1, 6, 15, 29, 31, 60], the management of cryptographic keys [83, 84], and also on control plane attacks on mobile networks [2, 65].

2 Security of the Trans-European Health Informatics Network

The first set of papers in this volume emanate from the KONFIDO project which addresses the important issue of providing a secure support to European health systems.

Indeed, large numbers of travellers from one European country to another sometimes need to access health services in the country they are visiting. These health services are typically based on a national model, or a regional model inside a given country such as Italy.

The corresponding informatics systems, with their patient data bases are also nationally or regionally based, so that when the medical practitioner in one country or region is required to diagnose and treat a visitor from some other region or country, she/he will need to access the patient’s data remotely. KONFIDO’s aim is to improve the cybersecurity of such systems, while improving also their inter-operability across countries and regions in Europe.

Thus the work in [80] presents an overall view and challenges of the project, while in [71] the authors present an analysis of the corresponding user requirements. Such systems have obvious ethics and privacy constraints which are discussed in [19].

A specific physics based technique for generating unique keys for the encryption needs for such systems is discussed in [7]. Keeping track of the transactions in such a system through blockchains is suggested in [10].

3 Contributions to the Security of the IoT

The first paper in the second group of papers concerning the IoT, examines the creation of markets which can exploit the value that the IoT generated provides [66]. Obviously, this will require the protection of privacy and will need that the data be rendered strongly anonymous. It will also require specific security not just for the IoT devices and networks, but also for the IoT data repositories in the Cloud and their access networks.

The second paper [11] is an overview of the principles and current achievements of the GHOST project which started in May of 2017 and which runs for three years. The project addresses safe-guarding home IoT environments through appropriate software that can be installed on home IoT gateways, and it also creates a prototype and test-bed using specific equipment from the TELEVES company that is coordinating the project.

Related to this project, another paper uses machine learning methods for the detection of network attacks on IoT gateways [9] based on Deep Learning [61] with the Random Neural Network [12, 25, 26]. Related to the GHOST project, other recent work published elsewhere, discusses the effect and mitigation of attacks on the batteries which supply the power of many light-weight IoT network nodes [38].

The following paper, also emanating from the GHOST project, discusses the use of novel blockchain techniques to enhance the security of IoT systems [68].

The final paper in this section is a description of the new SerIoT project that was started in 2018 [17]. Further details regarding this project can be found in a forthcoming paper [35]. Among its technical objectives is the design of SerCPN [16], a specific network for managing geographically distributed IoT devices using the principles of the Cognitive Packet Network (CPN) and using Software Defined Neyworks that has been tested in several experiments [42, 43, 46, 47, 49]. CPN uses “Smart” Packets (SPs) to search [1] for paths and measure QoS while the network is in operation, via Reinforcement Learning using a Random Neural Network [24], and based on the QoS Goal pursued by the end user. When an SP reaches its destination, its measurements are returned by an ACK packet to the intermediate nodes of the path that was identified by the SP, and to the end user, providing the QoS offered by the path that the SP travelled. The end user, which may be a source node or a decision making software package for a QoS Class, receives many such ACKs and takes the decision to switch to the one offering the best security or quality of service, or to stay with the current path [30, 39, 48]. An extension using genetic algorithms [27, 50] was implemented [70], a version for overlay networks [8] and a related system for Cloud computing [81, 82] were also tested.

An interesting development in SerIoT will combine energy aware routing [52, 53] and security in a Software Defined Network (SDN) approach [21, 22, 32]. It could also address admission control [58] as a means to improve security. Adaptive techniques for the management of wireless IoT device traffic to achieve better QoS will also be used by SerIoT [54, 55, 56, 72].

4 Improving the Security of Mobile Telephony

The final two papers in this volume address the cybersecurity of mobile telephony. Many mobile phones also offer opportunistic connections [64] to WIFI and other wireless networks. This creates vulnerabilities that need to be constantly monitored on the mobile device itself, which is the motivations for the work in [62] which investigates machine learning techniques to this effect.

On the other hand, the work described in [74] is a comprehensive review of the work of the author and of his colleagues [63], regarding attacks on the signalling plane of the core network of the mobile network operator, and especially the mitigation of such attacks. This work was conducted in the context of the European Commission funded project NEMESYS [75, 76] and makes extensive use of methods from the theory of Queueing Networks [57].

5 Conclusions

The reality of diverse, numerous and powerful cyber attacks has allowed the field of Cybersecurity to transition from an area concerned primarily with cryptography and the management of cryptographic keys, to a far broader field concerned with all forms of attacks on our cyber-infrastructure. These developments are illustrated by the diversity of the research and contributions presented in this volume. Subtending all these issues is the security of the software modules that we use in all the systems we develop and use. Thus the final paper in this volume relates to a static analysis approach to test and verify the security of software [79] which emanates from the European Commission’s funded SDK4ED research project. An important area that is left out of this volume concerns the integrated security of physical and cyber systems [33, 59].

We believe that the field has entered a new phase of substantial activity, and its support through funding from the European Commission illustrates the importance and vigour of European Research in Cybersecurity.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer EngineeringYaşar UniversityIzmirTurkey

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