short bio

Cyber Security Research Excellence Course

Tallinn University of Technology, The University of Adelaide

The Objective

To strengthen Estonia's position on international cyber security research excellence.

The main purpose of this course is to give students a concrete experience in academic research, academic writing and presenting their work to an international audience. This course is designed to build the basis for the brightest cyber security students to establish long-term collaborations on an international level. The starting point for this will be solving some concrete problems in an international collaborative way.

The course is targeted at Cyber Security PhD students. However, we will also admit a few Cyber Security MSc students who have a strong interest in pursuing an academic career, conducting research, and publishing papers. Courses like this are intended to develop towards the flagship courses of the academic side of the university's program and invite brighter minds to come to Estonia. Furthermore, by allowing MSc students to participate in this course, we encourage them to understand the more academic perspective early on and then join our PhD program and thereby strengthening Estonia's Cyber Security research.

It is expected from the students that they will actively "drive" the course, set their own milestones and be responsible for their progress. Throughout the course the students will be constantly mentored on a one-to-one basis. Furthermore, the students can get help from mentors participating in this collaboration, which currently includes academics working at Adelaide University and Tallinn University of Technology.

Format of the course

We will start the collaborative research with a two-week face-to-face meeting in January 2023 in Adelaide, Australia (hosted by the University of Adelaide). During that time, small international teams of students with common research interests will form. The purpose of those small groups is to have someone to actively discuss the research problem with — besides the mentors. After the workshop, the participating students return home but continue to work together on their chosen research topics using MS Teams/Zoom/Meet/Signal, e-mail, etc. In June 2023, the students meet again face-to-face, this time in Estonia. At the end of the year, it's expected that the research efforts have led to an academic paper draft.

Why are face-to-face meetings required?
Bootstrapping a collaborative research process is extremely difficult when working with complete strangers. Working remotely together is already challenging enough, but some face-to-face meetings are essential in order to make people talk to each other.

Why is the initial meeting at the University of Adelaide?
The University of Adelaide is an internationally well-known university (ranked #109 worldwide). It has a strong track record in fundamental sciences, such as mathematics and computer science. Furthermore, there have already been ongoing collaborations, and the group has been supportive for several years. In addition, Australia is located in the southern hemisphere, which makes January a nice period in the year.

Why is the mid-term meeting at Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia?
Estonia is a country that focuses on IT innovation. With a fully digital government and numerous start-ups, it leads the field in many aspects. The July meeting will also include an introduction to "e-Estonia".

Time-line for 2023 course

October '22 Students decide if they want to sign-up for the course.
December '22 Students have selected the topic area and started literature review. This includes preparing for the research workshop in Australia.
16-27 Jan 2023 Research-intensive Bootcamp at Adelaide University in Adelaide, Australia
Spring '23

ITC 9010 (6 ECTS)
During the spring, we will meet and discusses progress and questions arising from the work. This also includes discussions on topics such as 'how to conduct a literature review', 'research methodology', 'how to select a conference or journal', etc. It is also expected that the teams regularly catch up with their remote colleagues over zoom/teams/meet/etc.

March '23 Written detailed project description and also a completed literature review.
12-16 June

Face-to-face project research workshop in Estonia. During that week, we will also have a chance to visit e-Estonia Showroom, Mektory, NATO CCD COE, and other organizations, aka "eEstonia DreamTour".

19-23 June '23 C3S on maritime cybersecurity
Autumn 2023

ITC 9020 (6 ECTS)
In the second half of the year we will more focus on analyzing data, writing-up a paper using latex, etc.

October '23 Poster presenting research methodology, and results.
January '24 Research paper draft ready to submit to journal or conference.

Topic Areas (DRAFT)

All students are expected to select a topic before Christmas and come well-prepared to the workshop in Adelaide. Below is a list of topics to choose from. Regarding details, talk to your local supervisor.
This is currently an early draft of ideas and needs to be revised. The idea is to have a few topics on which to create a "critical mass". Below is a list of various interests, but the list will be reduced.

  • Red-teaming & digital forensics & malware analysis
    • Create a methodology to analyze website links and e-mails automatically
    • Exploiting IPv6 & data exfiltration
    • passive DNS
    • Security in forensic toolkits
    • Multimedia forensics
    • Counter forensics
  • Cyber-Physical Systems & IoT
    • Securing Cyber-Physical Devices
    • Identifying potential security implications of networked cyber-physical systems
    • Security requirements in cyber physical devices
    • Forensics in cyber-physical and embedded systems
    • Topological Vulnerability Analysis
    • IoT Testbed (a "Underwriter's Lab-UL" for connectivity)
  • Competency and skill management
    • stenmap
    • learning aspects and team-dynamics at cyber security exercises.
    • pedagogical aspects of Cyber Security education and trainings.
  • Situational awareness & modelling
    • Monitoring (buzzwords here include: pcaps, syslog, Kibana/Elasticsearch, Suricata, BRO, netflow, Moloch etc)
    • Analyzing and modelling (including big data analytics, etc)
    • "Digital Norms on an International Stage" & privay & data protection
      • Critial Infrastructure Protection & EU-Directive 2016/1148
      • How do we modify to international treaties/agreements to reflect the digital age (e.g. Law of Armed Conflict, Geneva Convention, The Hague Accord, etc.)
      • Privacy versus security
      • Data Provinence
      • Privacy in network enabled cyber-physical systems
      • Privacy preserving digital forensic processes
    • Social-cybersecurity interaction
      • E-Governance
      • e-identity/e-residency
      • virtual embassy
      • personal data market

    Expected project outcomes

    • Research abstract publication (workshop in July, abstracts due April)
    • Poster showing research results
    • Academic Research Paper draft (ready to be submitted not later than January 2024)
      Potential conferences include, but are not limited to:
    • Establishing strong international research cooperation among the participants and the participating universities on all levels
    • Establishing an international network of academic security researchers

    Participants Webpages

    Personal pages of academic mentors

    Matt Sorell (University of Adelaide)
    Nick Falkner(University of Adelaide)
    Olaf Maennel (Tallinn University of Technology)

Olaf Maennel | skype: olaf_maennel | e-mail: om@maennel.net | 20 Oct 2022