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Uni of Adelaide signs four cyber security research agreements with DST Group

Scientists at the University of Adelaide has signed four research agreements with DST Group in the area of advanced cyber capabilities.

The University’s research will be led by Professor Debi Ashenden, Associate Professor Hung Nguyen and Associate Professor Damith Ranasinghe from the University’s School of Computer Science.

“These projects are funded under the Next Generation Technology Fund’s cyber program and are four of the 11 that have been given the go-ahead nationally, “ says Professor Michael Webb, Director of the University’s Defence and Security Institute (DSI) and Academic Coordinator for Defence, Cyber and Space.

Professor Ashenden holds the DST Group-University of Adelaide Joint Chair in Cyber Security. Her project is part of DSTG’s Next Generation Technology (NGT) Cyber Call 2020 – Fusing Behavioural Science and Cyber Deception – Fighting Wars from Inside Machines.

“My project aims to fuse behavioural research on deception with cyber deception technology, artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML),” she said.

“Our intention is to develop cyber deception threat models and effects that integrate behavioural science with technology alongside a toolkit that will assist in delivering novel cyber deception effects. We will explore the limits of how AI and ML methods can improve and automate cyber deception. The research will build a sovereign capability with the aim of increasing operational advantage to Australian Defence.”

Professor Ashenden’s project will forge a new research partnership between DST Group, Australian-based cyber technology company PenTen, Deakin University’s Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A2I2), and the UK’s National Cyber Deception Lab.

“Network configuration inconsistencies in computers, such as policy conflicts, are a common occurrence and they can, and do, leave networks open to cyber-attacks,” said Associate Professor Nguyen who leads the Defence, Cyber and Space theme in the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences.

“This three-year research program will develop methods that aim to address the challenge of the overwhelming complexity in managing network configurations and security.

The research will provide Australian defence and industry with a unique cyber assurance capability through a new research partnership led by the University of Adelaide with DST Group and leading provider of communication and networking technologies, Cisco Systems Australia.

“Deploying new technologies, without understanding the risks is dangerous. Our first project will look at the challenging problem of how we build trustworthy AI systems for autonomous systems of the future,” said Associate Professor Ranasinghe who will lead two projects and build new partnerships with research leaders from the University of New South Wales, Deakin University’s Centre for Cyber Security Research & Innovation (CSRI), DST Group and CSIRO’s Data61 Group.

“Artificial intelligence technologies are increasingly becoming pervasive because of the potential to provide super human performance tasks but the flip side is that AI systems are also very fragile and can be easily fooled and manipulated.”

In a second project, Associate Professor Ranasinghe will find more effective and faster methods to discover software vulnerabilities.

“Our efforts will address the challenges in large scale automated testing of software for discovering reliability, correctness and security vulnerabilities of software,” he said.

“Given the complexity of software being built today it is often very hard to manually test software to find bugs, especially deeply embedded ones which can be very hard to find.”

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