Areas of research

Areas of research

Below are the active research and research.

Active Research Research
Internet-of-Things (IoTs) Mobile Device Security
Payment System Security Security Protocol Design
Secure Application Execution Near Field Communication Security
Trusted Execution Environment New Usage of Side-Channel Leakage
Smart Card OS and Platforms Transport
Embedded System Security Verification of Security Protocols
Security of RFID Tokens User Centric Devices
Automotive Software (Games) Content Protection
Avionics Data Provenance
Software and Hardware Binding

Active Research

Internet-of-Things (IoTs)

I am particularly interested in providing countermeasures for weaknesses and attacks on IOT devices. I have supervised a number of projects examining the security of smart locks, web cams, DVRs, smart watches, and other “smart” devices.

Payment System Security (Centralized and Distributed)

Amongst my main research interests is the security of payment systems, fair exchange [CP16] and anonymity [CP13] protocols. We have also been conducting research in the field of bitcoins and fair exchange protocols [CP81] and exploring the benefits of block chain technologies for other applications. We have also been conducting research in the field of centralised payment systems [CP89]. This research thread is currently leading us into further research questions [CP95] related to NFC payments [CP79] and we practically examine the efficient use of mobile phone sensors for avoiding relay attacks [CP81].

Secure Application Execution

In this research thread, we are investigating ways that guarantee the secure execution of an application in embedded/cyber physical devices (e.g. smart cards, mobile phones, payment terminals, IoTs, etc.) that might be subjected to a number of intentional attacks (e.g. side channel attacks) and unintentional faults (cosmic radiation). The main aim of this research thread [CP77, CP87, CP94] is to detect any attacks, protect runtime data, provide verified instruction interpretation and control flow verification, in an attempt to recover the underlying platform in a secure state. The practicality of these proposals has been implemented and tested in an FPGA platform implementing a microprocessor.

Trusted Execution Environment

for embedded systems and mobile phones: in this research thread [CP113, CP114, CP130], we looked into the different attestation mechanisms [CP37, CP42, CP49, CP61, CP73] that will allow a device to provide the necessary assurance that it operates in a secure and safe mode. This includes preventing any attacks by identifying any vulnerabilities or modifications (at the software level) of the underlying platform. This research thread is also examining the security provisions of a number of trusted execution environments such as ARM TrustZone and Intel SGX, in order to provide security enhancements [CCP105, CPP114, CP122, CP130].

Smart Card OS and Platforms

We have been conducting research in smart card technology and associated operating systems and platforms since 1995. We have developed our own smart card simulator upon which we will have full control of which faults are introduced. We have initiated new protocols that will enable to dynamically verify static certificates (e.g. common criteria) against on-the-fly generated attestation results [CP7, CP16, CP97].

Embedded System Security

I am particularly interested in the interactions between hardware and software for the secure operation of mobile devices platforms and OSs. We are exploring hardware and software binding along with software countermeasures and attestation micro kernels that will safeguard the overall security of the underlying platform.

Security of RFID Tokens

Grouping proofs push the boundaries of token and reader interactions towards the secure authentication of multiple tokens within acceptable time frames, which has lead into a number of publications [67, 66, 55]. We have been examining the security of low-cost RFID authentication protocols and we were successful in identifying unknown vulnerabilities in existing systems along with proposing efficient authentication protocols [93,102].

Automotive

As part of our research effort in the field of automotive security, we  investigated the “security” of CANBUS [CP92, CP93] and the use of mobile devices for attestating the current status of vehicle security [CP83]. We have examined existing industrial proposals (e.g. the EVITA project) and, based on our analysis, we have suggested a number of improved protocols, related with safety and security measures. These are implemented in commercial Electronic Control Units (ECUs) and they are also analysed using mechanical tools (CasperFDR and Scyther). [CP111]}

Avionics

I am also particularly interested in the secure deployment and utilisation of hardware security sensors and Electronic Control Units (ECUs) in avionics and automotive environments. I was, in fact, the PI in the Secure High availability Avionics Wireless Networks (SHAWN) project (funded by EPSRC and TSB), which provided security expertise and advice in a number of industrial project partners. As a result of our work, we have published a few papers, [CP130, CP137, CP138] with paper [CP99] winning the best conference paper in the security session of a major avionics conference.

Software and Hardware Binding

In this research thread [CP106, CP123], we consider a very powerful adversary model that involves an attacker being able to bypass the tamper resistance of individual nodes in cyber-physical systems. In essence, the attacker is able to read the contents of different memories and, as a result, any protection based on the tamper resistance of the chip (stored cryptographic keys) will be rendered useless. We are proposing a model of different hardware intrinsic functions [CP98] that will allow the binding of software to a specific hardware both for IP protection but also for protection against counterfeit, reused, repackaged products.

Research

 

Mobile Device Security

Mobile devices have become equivalent to mainstream and powerful computing devices. We are examining the underlying security mechanisms for secure application installation, privilege escalation, permission enforcement and provision of forensic tools.

Security Protocol Design

Currently, there are a number of secure channel protocols that do not take into account the specific characteristics (e.g. processing overheads, communication buffers, etc.) of the underlying technology utilised by different devices. We have proposed, in the following papers a number of secure channel protocols that were designed specifically by taking into account all these factors.

Near Field Communication Security

Near Field Communication offers new communication possibilities for mobile devices but at the same time it introduces a number of open ended security questions. Among them we encounter the provision and operation of a trusted element and relay attacks. We performed, probably, the first NFC security papers related to relay vulnerability in mobile devices [74, 70, 66, 62, 61] in the world.

New Usage of Side-Channel Leakage

This is the result of a completely new way of thinking into side channel leakage on embedded devices. Up to today, side channel leakage was used, in order to break into systems and algorithms. However, we propose that it can be used, in order to fingerprint a platform and in order to make sure that the secure application execution is verified [98].

Transport System Security

We have investigating the security requirements of NFC handsets, along with their perceived security advantages and disadvantages, in the transport industry. This thread of work also involves examining the use of NFC handsets as ticketing devices taking into account tokenization, performance and security requirements.

Verification of Security Protocols

We have been looking into provable security through the utilization of formal methods and automated protocol analysis tools like Casper/FDR, Avispa, etc. I would like to be able to extend the limitations of some of these tools, for example Casper/FDR, in order to be able to handle the specific requirements and operational characteristics of a number of platforms and protocols, e.g. smart metering and RFIDs.

User Centric Devices

In this research thread, we are proposing a user centric model of ownership for a number of personal devices, including smart cards, RFIDs, and mobile phones. The nature of the above operational environments create specific research questions in terms of how the applications will be downloaded, installed, decommissioned and attestated.

Software (Games) Content Protection

I am interested in the Digital Rights Management issues and interoperability between mobile phones and other devices, e.g. set-top-boxes, game consoles.

Data Provenance:

In Internet of Things (IoT) and Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS), data might be collected from a number of nodes deployed in the field. We are investigating data provenance mechanisms for personal information stored in the cloud.

Video/Computer Game Antic heating Mechanisms

We are also investigating the protection of software, computer games through hardware enhancements. The role of anticheating engines is examined with the view of providing hardware, software, networking and distributed ledger technologies.