Smarter security for smart devices

University of Southern Queensland researchers making smart devices safer

These days, you can control almost your entire home with a simple tap of a button on your smartphone or a voice command.

From adjusting the lights to ordering groceries and cranking the aircon even before you reach home, smart devices can certainly make your life much easier.

“But it can come at a cost,” University of Southern Queensland cyber security and privacy preservation expert Professor Jianming Yong warned.

“The more smart devices you have connected to a network, the more ways your stored information and data can be stolen or leaked by hackers without any warning.”

The growing reliance on interconnected devices, like smart phones and smart speakers, has created new privacy risks and made them more vulnerable to cyber attacks.

To address this issue, Professor Yong and fellow University of Southern Queensland researcher Associate Professor Xiaohui Tao have received a three-year, $347,000 Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Projects grant to improve privacy mechanisms in smart devices.

Professor Yong, who is the project’s lead chief investigator, said it was quite easy for cyber attackers to hack into smart devices.

“Any smart device can be turned into a surveillance device without the users’ knowledge,” he said.

“A hacker can install an app to a smart phone to steal all sensitive data or personal information from the smart phone, and then demand a ransom.”

Professor Yong said recent advances in consumer technology and the roll out of the 5G network required more efficient, robust and innovative security solutions.

“Privacy breaches within the domain of 5G-based Internet of Things (IoT), such as smart devices, have become one of the most serious concerns in cyber security prior to the era of 5G integrated IoT,” he said.

“Current privacy preservation techniques cannot satisfy the needs of privacy preservation across the cloud infrastructure and universally connected digital superhighways.

“The importance of new and more advanced privacy preservation protocols is more critical than ever.”

Professor Yong and Associate Professor Tao will collaborate with Professor Yuefeng Li from the Queensland University of Technology to develop AI-powered tools and methods to identify the gaps of existing privacy preservation techniques and develop a novel privacy preservation system for the present 5G-enabled environment of cyber security.

“Using cutting edge AI technology, such as deep learning, we hope to gain an insightful understanding of privacy preservation protocols within a 5G integrated IoT domain,” Professor Yong said.

“This will allow us to create accurate and reliable privacy preservation protocols for different interconnected smart devices that takes into consideration personalised communication privacy demands.”

The grant, ‘Privacy Preservation over 5G and IoT Smart Devices’ was awarded by the ARC, through the Discovery Projects Scheme. The scheme aims to support excellent basic and applied research and research training; promote national and international research collaboration; and enhance the scale and focus of research in Australian Government priority areas.

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