About 200 hundred kilometres north of Sydney, we find Newcastle, the largest coal exporting harbour in the world and a quiet city of the state of New South Wales. Apart from coal and beautiful beaches, Newcastle has a university, the University of Newcastle (UON), where a well-known cybersecurity authority, Professor Vijay Varadharajan, leads the Advanced Cyber Security Engineering Research Centre – ACSRC.
Faculty of Engineering
During the last two months of 2019, I (Alberto Huertas) visited the ACSRC to initiate a collaboration with the team led by Prof. Vijay Varadharajan. It was not my first time representing TSSG in a foreign country (I already did it in Spain last year), but it was the first time being two months so far from Ireland and representing the team alone. Before travelling, I was a little nervous because I had not worked with Prof. Vijay Varadharajan before, but once I met him and his team, I felt comfortable and relaxed. My previous experiences during other visits also helped me to be manage the situation.
After meeting the team members, Prof. Vijay Varadharajan explained me that ACSRC was mainly focused on achieving fundamental advances in the theory, design and management of models and techniques that will enable secure and dependable computing information systems and services. Currently, the ACSRC have research projects in the areas of Cloud Security, Secure Virtualization, Internet of Things, Big Data Security, Software Defined Networks Security, Malware and Security Attacks, or Data Analytics for Malware Analysis, among others. Since several of the ACSRS research lines were closely related to my interests, we prepared several presentations (from both sides) summarizing our current and past projects, expertise and background to decide the most promising collaboration.
Alberto Huertas presenting one of his research lines
Once both sides were aware of the research projects and background of both, we agreed on focusing my visit on researching cybersecurity architectures and mechanisms applied to future eHealth environments such as hospital rooms of the future and Brain-Computer Interfaces. It was important for me because this research line is fully aligned with my IRC postdoctoral fellowship and my research line at TSSG, oriented to the creation, detection and mitigation of cyberattacks affecting neural activity. During the two months, we achieved relevant progress and currently, we are working on one article that will be submitted to an important journal of the cybersecurity field. Apart from that, our intention is to keep the collaboration in the future to produce more research outputs and do future visits.
From a personal perspective, it was my first time in Australia, and I could not have had a better impression of Newcastle (and surroundings), its people and culture. In this sense, I would like to especially thank Professor Vijay Varadharajan, Dr Kallol Krishna Karmakar, Dr Udaya Tupakula, and the whole team for the warm welcome, their help, and the interesting talks that we had. Australia is a place that I will go again. Last but not least, I also want to mention the only sad part of my trip to Australia, the bushfire crisis affecting the whole country and especially the states of New South Wales (where Newcastle is, as can be seen in the figure) and Victoria. I do not want to finish this entry without thanking to firefighters and everyone fighting against this dramatic catastrophe.
7th International Conference on Smart City and Informatization
In November, just in the middle of my visit to the ACSRC, I had the chance to travel to Guangzhou (China) and present two accepted paper in the 7th International Conference on Smart City and Informatization. Guangzhou is the capital city of Guangdong Province, it is close to Hong Kong and Macau, and it is the third-largest city in China. With more than 2200 years of history and profound cultural heritage, Guangzhou is one of the most famous tourist resorts in China, with a lot of tourist sites, such as Baiyun Mountain, Guangzhou Tower, and Yuexiu Park.
Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
The main goal of the 7th International Conference on Smart City and Informatisation (iSCI 2019) is to provide a unique platform for multi-disciplinary researchers and teams, industry solution vendors, and government agencies to exchange innovative ideas, challenges, research results and solutions, as well as project experience reports and success stories.
It was my first time in China, and I enjoyed a lot the experience as well. From the professional point of view, the conference was very productive because apart from presenting two papers (below you can find the details), I attended four days of interesting sessions, learned and got new ideas for future works, and extended my research network with new colleagues working on the cybersecurity area.
The two presented papers are:
- A Management Platform for Citizen’s Data Protection Regulation, where we proposed a novel platform geared toward the protection of citizen’s sensitive data according to their data protection preferences and the rights provided by current data protection regulation laws. We also presented a case study to demonstrate how our platform manages data anonymization, protecting a private citizen’s right.
- Securing Smart Offices Through an Intelligent and Multi-device Continuous Authentication System, which main contribution was the design and deployment of a continuous and intelligent authentication architecture oriented to Smart Offices. The architecture was oriented to the cloud computing paradigm and considers Machine Learning techniques to authenticate users according to their behaviors. Some experiments demonstrated the suitability of the proposed solution when recognising and authenticating different users using a classification algorithm.
One of the papers presented in the conference
My time in Guangzhou was very positive from the personal point of view as well because I discovered and learned some aspects of the Asian culture completely different from the things that I am used to. For example, elderly people doing exercise and yoga in parks and streets, people dancing oriental rhythms outside, or food with tastes quite different from Chinese restaurant food of western countries. Finally, before flying back to Australia, I also had the opportunity to enjoy beautiful places and experiences with some colleagues that I met during the conference.