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Dan Harnesk and Christer Åhlund, Luleå University of Technology
Dan Harness, Associate Professor of Information Systems, and Christer Åhlund, Professor of Pervasive and Mobile Computing. View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Researchers and businesses prevent cyber threats

Published: 26 May 2016

More and more societal functions rely on the internet and this makes society more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. A new Centre of Excellence at Luleå University of Technology will intensify the research on how cyber threats can be countered and how socially critical functions can be ensured.

– Smart communities, digitization and electronics for monitoring and control – there is an ongoing development related to the Internet of Things that opens to different kinds of threats, says Christer Åhlund, professor of Pervasive and Mobile Computing.

The aim of the Centre of Excellence, Centre for Critical Infrastructure and Societal Security, is to counter threats towards society and ensure the safety of critical functions through system solutions. Primarily, this means threats in the form of deliberately campaigns aimed at influencing society negatively, for example, a cyber-attack aimed towards energy supplies.

– Today, there are many critical infrastructures that need to be protected and more knowledge needs to be developed to enhance the ability to identify threats and vulnerabilities, and thus manage sophisticated attacks, says Dan Harnesk, Associate Professor of Information Systems.

Unique research focus

Electronic solutions, applications and services and methods for risk and vulnerability assessments and the development of leadership and management for safety practices, are other important issues to be addressed.

– Technical infrastructures are increasingly complex with interconnected devices and equipment and therefore, for example, risk analysis will become more important. And also, it is important to conduct a systematic work in information security from a business perspective. This center can act as support both technically and organisationally, says Dan Harnesk.

Within the framework of the Centre for Critical Infrastructure and Societal Security, focus will be on two specializations, technical security and information security. This combination makes the centre unique in its kind. Techniques developed could be applied in several areas, such as security against organized crime, in the energy sector and the public sector.

– Researchers usually investigate either the technology or the processes behind it. We try to keep a holistic approach. That means we can identify research issues and enable innovation in the interface between these two approaches, says Christer Åhlund.

Mobilize expertise

One of the university’s Area of excellence in research and innovation, Enabling ICT, has contributed to the creation of the research center.

– Enabling ICT has been an enabler for the research centre, both financially and scientifically. Safety aspects are very important for the application of information and communication technologies, says Christer Åhlund.

– Any research topic focusing on information technology needs to account for security challenges. Through collaboration with  other research subjects, we can create a competitive competence in the security realm at Luleå University of Technology.

The initiators of the research center are Luleå University of Technology, Skellefteå municipality and Boden municipality. In addition there are several partners who are also involved, such as Skellefteå Kraft, Piteå energi, Bodens energi, Nordic Safety and Security Center, Lindskog Innovation AB, Skellefteå Drive Center, Stiftelsen Adopticum, Data Ductus, Strongpoint Cash Security and Volantic AB.

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