PhD Students

We are always looking for outstanding PhD students passionate about computer security and resilience for enterprise systems, large-scale infrastructures, or cyber-physical environments. The Department of Computing at Imperial College has a number of PhD studentships. Please check that your application meets the minimum entry requirements specified by the College before applying. Please don’t hesitate to contact (Professor Emil Lupu) if you would like to work with our group and include in your email a CV, transcripts, and examples of work that you have done e.g. papers or MSc/Bc thesis even if in draft form.

Topics of interest include:

  • The resilience of Cyber-Physical Systems
  • Robust information fusion
  • Topics at the intersection of security and safety.
  • The security of AR/VR environments.
  • Designing security in very resource constrained environments e.g. implantable medical sensors.
  • Adversarial Machine Learning with focus on: practical problems, toolchains for robustness, attack detection.

Compositional Reliability Analysis for Probabilistic Component Automata

In this paper we propose a modelling formalism, Probabilistic Component Automata (PCA), as a probabilistic extension to Interface Automata to represent the probabilistic behaviour of component-based systems. The aim is to support composition of component-based models for both behaviour and non-functional properties such as reliability. We show how addi- tional primitives for modelling failure scenarios, failure handling and failure propagation, as well as other algebraic operators, can be combined with models of the system architecture to automatically construct a system model by composing models of its subcomponents. The approach is supported by the tool LTSA-PCA, an extension of LTSA, which generates a composite DTMC model. The reliability of a particular system configuration can then be automatically analysed based on the corresponding composite model using the PRISM model checker. This approach facilitates configurability and adaptation in which the software configuration of components and the associated composition of component models are changed at run time.

P. Rodrigues, E. Lupu and J. Kramer,  Compositional Reliability Analysis for Probabilistic Component Automata, to appear in International Workshop on Modelling in Software Engineering (MiSE), Florence, May 16-17, 2015.

On Re-Assembling Self-Managed Components

Self-managed systems need to adapt to changes in requirements and in operational conditions. New components or services may become available, others may become unreliable or fail. Non-functional aspects, such as reliability or other quality-of- service parameters usually drive the selection of new architectural configurations. However, in existing approaches, the link between non-functional aspects and software models is established through manual annotations that require human intervention on each re-configuration and adaptation is enacted through fixed rules that require anticipation of all possible changes. We propose here a methodology to automatically re-assemble services and component-based applications to preserve their reliability. To achieve this we define architectural and behavioural models that are composable, account for non-functional aspects and correspond closely to the implementation. Our approach enables autonomous components to locally adapt and control their inter- nal configuration whilst exposing interface models to upstream components.

P. Rodrigues, J. Kramer and E. Lupu,  On Re-Assembling Self-Managed Components, to appear in International Symposium on Integrated Network and Service Management (IM), Ottawa, May 11-15, 2015

Martín Barrère

Martín Barrère
Martín Barrère

Martín has recently joined the group after receiving a PhD degree in Computer Science from the University of Lorraine, France, in 2014. His current research work focuses on intelligent protection mechanisms for cloud environments at run-time. His topics of interest include computer security, autonomic computing, vulnerability management, mobile and cloud computing, distributed computing, digital evidence and forensics, formal models and languages, Linux-based systems and TCP/IP networks administration, Java technologies, logic and database systems.

Luis Muñoz González

Luis is a Research Associate in the Department of Computing at Imperial College London. He received his PhD from University Carlos III of Madrid (Spain) where he proposed novel Gaussian process models for non-stationary and heteroscedastic regression. His background includes machine learning and cyber-security. His current research interests are adversarial machine learning and security risk assessment with attack graph models. You can find more details about his current research activities and contact information at his personal web page, Google Scholar profile or Researchgate.

Federico Morini

Federico received his MSc in Engineering in Computer Science from University of Ferrara. He joined the group in 2014 and is working towards a PHD. He is interested in Protocol Modelling, in particular applied to SCADA Networks. His work is focused on listening to the communication between two hosts and trying to extract information on the message format and state machine of the protocol.

 

Federating Policy-Driven Autonomous Systems: Interaction Specification and Management Patterns

Ubiquitous systems and applications involve interactions between multiple autonomous entities—for example, robots in a mobile ad-hoc network collaborating to achieve a goal, communications between teams of emergency workers involved in disaster relief operations or interactions between patients’ and healthcare workers’ mobile devices. We have previously proposed the Self-Managed Cell (SMC) as an architectural pattern for managing autonomous ubiquitous systems that comprise both hardware and software components and that implement policy-based adaptation strategies. We have also shown how basic management interactions between autonomous SMCs can be realised through exchanges of notifications and policies, to effectively program management and context-aware adaptations. We present here how autonomous SMCs can be composed and federated into complex structures through the systematic composition of interaction patterns. By composing simpler abstractions as building blocks of more complex interactions it is possible to leverage commonalities across the structural, control and communication views to manage a broad variety of composite autonomous systems including peer-to-peer collaborations, federations and aggregations with varying degrees of devolution of control. Although the approach is more broadly applicable, we focus on systems where declarative policies are used to specify adaptation and on context-aware ubiquitous systems that present some degree of autonomy in the physical world, such as body sensor networks and autonomous vehicles. Finally, we present a formalisation of our model that allows a rigorous verification of the properties satisfied by the SMC interactions before policies are deployed in physical devices.

Schaeffer-Filho, Alberto and Lupu, Emil and Sloman, Morris. Federating Policy-Driven Autonomous Systems: Interaction Specification and Management Patterns, Journal of Network and Systems Management, Springer, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10922-014-9317-5

Vittorio Illiano

Vittorio Paolo Illiano
Vittorio Paolo Illiano

Vittorio Illiano is PhD student in the Department of Computing at Imperial College London, as part of the Intel ICRI on Sustainable and Connected Cities.

His main research area is security in Wireless Sensor Networks, with a focus on anomaly detection and related data analysis techniques.
He received the B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Computer Engineering from the University of Naples “Federico II”.

Vittorio left the group after completing and defending successfully his PhD Thesis. He is now working with Novartis.

CIPART: Cloud Intelligent Protection at Run-Time

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EP/L022729/1

Organisations, small and large, increasingly rely upon cloud environments to supply their ICT needs because clouds provide a better incremental cost structure, resource elasticity and simpler management. This trend is set to continue as increasingly information collected from mobile devices and smart environments including homes, infrastructures and smart-cities is uploaded and processed in cloud environments. Services delivered to users are also deployed in the cloud as this provides better scaleability and in some cases permits migration closer to the point of access for reduced latency.

Clouds are therefore an attractive target for organised and skilled cyber-attacks. They are also more vulnerable as they host environments from multiple tenant organisations with different interests and different risk aversion profiles. Yet clouds also offer opportunities for better protection both pro-actively and reactively in response to a persistent attack.

Pedro Rodrigues

Pedro Rodrigues
Pedro Rodrigues

Pedro has obtained his PhD in the RISS group working on composable techniques for reliability analysis.

LTSA-PCA : Tool support for compositional reliability analysis

ltsa-pca-pic

Software systems are constructed by combining new and existing services and components. Models that represent an aspect of a system should therefore be compositional to facilitate reusability and automated construction from the representation of each part. In this paper we present an extension to the LTSA tool  that provides support for the specification, visualisation and analysis of composable probabilistic behaviour of a component-based system using Probabilistic Component Automata (PCA). These also include the ability to specify failure scenarios and failure handling behaviour. Following composition, a PCA that has full probabilistic information can be translated to a DTMC model for reliability analysis in PRISM. Before composition, each component can be reduced to its interface behaviour in order to mitigate state explosion associated with composite representations, which can significantly reduce the time to analyse the reliability of a system. Moreover, existing behavioural analysis tools in LTSA can also be applied to PCA representations.

LTSA-PCA software
Examples
Demonstration Video
P. Rodrigues, E. Lupu and J. Kramer LTSA-PCA: Tool Support for Compositional Reliability Analysis, ICSE 2014, (formal demonstrations), Hyderabad, May 31 – June 7, 2014. download preprint of the paper.

Daniele Sgandurra

Daniele joined the group as a Research Associate after having completed a PhD at University of Pisa, and having worked at IIT-CNR as a PostDoc Researcher. Daniele’s main research fields include virtualization and cloud security, threat modeling, mobile security, malware analysis and  critical infrastructures and risk management.

His personal homepage can be found here. Daniele is now a Lecturer in the Security Group at Royal Holloway, University of London

Luke Dickens

Luke Dickens
Luke Dickens

Luke joined the group as a Research Associate after having completed a PhD at Imperial College London under the supervision of Dr Alessandra Russo. Luke focuses on machine learning techniques and is working on techniques for dealing with partially trusted sources of information in particular in crowdsourcing scenarios. Luke is now a lecturer at University College London.

Policy Refinement

Layered refinement with interleaved transformations
Layered refinement with interleaved transformations

Refining policies from high level goals to enforceable specifications in asemi-automated and principled ways remains one of the most significant challenges in policy based systems. We have on two occasions attempted to tackle this challenges in collaboration with Dr Alessandra Russo at Imperial, Dr Arosha Bandara at the Open University and Dr Jorge Lobo at IBM. The first attempt wast done during the Dr Bandara’s PhD thesis. …

Self-Managed Cell

smc
Self-Managed Cell Architecture

The Self-Managed Cell is an architectural pattern for building autonomous pervasive systems. It was developed in collaboration with Prof. Joe Sventek at the University of Glasgow, and with my colleagues Dr. Narnaker Dulay and Prof. Morris Sloman at Imperial College.

Enrico Scalavino

enricoscalavinoEnrico designed a framework for secure dissemination of information in partially disconnected environments as part of the Consequence project. This was in particular applied to information exchanges between first responder organisations in crisis management scenario. His work also investigated the protection of derived data. After successfully completing his PhD under the supervision of Dr Emil Lupu, Enrico took a position with Morgan Stanley. He is now a Senior Software engineer at Microsoft.

Alberto Egon Schaeffer Filho

albertoAlberto did his PhD thesis under the supervision of Dr Emil Lupu and contributed significantly to our work on the Self Managed Cells. In particular, his work focussed on means of realising autonomous interactions, compositions and federations of cells in a recursive fashion. After completing his PhD, Alberto became a Research Associate at Lancaster University. He is now an Associate Professor at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). His web page is here.