Cybersecurity in Self-Driving Cars
Connected self-driving (autonomous) vehicles represent the next wave of industrial revolution. One of the main challenges facing self-driving cars is cybersecurity. For example, a cyberattack may attempt to access one of the Electronic Control Units (ECUs) in a car (e.g. car’s bluetooth). Through such vulnerable peripheral ECU, which is connected to many other ECUs, a hacker will be able to gain control of critical ECUs (e.g. brakes.)
The goals of this project are for the students to a) get familiar with the car’s internal network (CAN bus), b) validate some cybersecurity threats towards a car (shutting off the engine), and c) finally develop defense mechanisms towards one or more of these cyberattacks (building firewall for an ECU access). To be able to accomplish these goals, we will utilize the open-source Open Car Testbed And Network Experiments (OCTANE) software platform (http://octane.gmu.edu/). Such car testbed has been extended to accommodate security features. For more information about OCTANE, it is recommended to have a look at the YouTube tutorials and research paper available at the OCTANE webpage.
• Strong programming skills in C#.
• Familiarity with XML markup language.
Contact: Dr. Ahmed Ibrahim (firstname.lastname@example.org)
With the incredible developments in information and communication technologies (ICT), buildings are be-coming equipped with such technologies for achieving energy-efficiency and sustainability. Referred to as Smart Buildings, the goal is to automatically sense the occupancy of building spaces via the existing ICTs (e.g., WiFis) in the buildings and inform building systems to adjust accordingly. Nevertheless, all of these approaches require tracking of the users, which raises privacy concerns due to revealing their identity along with movement habits. We already developed an Android App for privacy-preserving localization. We will extend this application by
1- Providing occupancy monitoring of the building on the cloud using encrypted measurements.
2- Providing indoor navigation capabilities.
- Strong programming skills in Java and Android with an existing track record of developed Android applications
- Knowledge about IEEE 802.11, and wireless localization technologies is a plus
With the deployment of wireless-enabled smart meters in our homes, the power usage data is transmitted to utilities through wireless communications. These communications typically use a number of protocols such as Zigbee, WiFi or RF. In this project, we will investigate if the communication from these smart meters can be blocked by launching Denial of Service (DoS) attacks at different layers of communications such as TCP SYN Flooding, Man in the Middle and UDP flooding. The tests will be done with the actual devices in our labs.
- Strong programming skills in C++.
- Knowledge about TCP/IP protocol stack, 802.11 and Zigbee.
Contact: Dr. Kemal Akkaya (email@example.com)
Smart Grid refers to the modernization of the existing power grid to provide efficiency, reliability, and safety. Smart Grid has wireless communication and software platform to control, deliver and meter electric energy to the consumers. Therefore, leaving electric grid vulnerable can be catastrophic. An understanding and awareness has to be developed for future engineers to learn modern grid technologies, its applications, means of security, and standardizations. This project, which will be mentored by Dr. Arif Sarwat, will focus on the security of the newly built Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and secure integration of Electric Vehicles (EV) to the Smart Grid.
Qualifications: Basic knowledge of power systems and circuit theory.
Contact: Dr. Arif Sarwat (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Solid-State Lighting (SSL) devices with multiple light emitting diodes (LEDs) are being heavily deployed and commercialized. It is expected that multi-element SSL devices will soon outnumber the traditional ones. These devices have an additional advantage of fast turn-on and turn-off properties that could be leveraged for free-space optical (FSO) communication at visible light spectrum, referred to as visible light communication (VLC).
In this project, mentored by Dr. Nezih Pala, we aim at involving undergraduate students to investigate and develop visible light communication systems for the dual purpose of communication and illumination, with a special emphasis of investigation of challenges in maintaining secure communications.
Qualifications: Circuit design, Communication protocols, Programming (Java/C/C++)
Contact: Dr. Nezih Pala (email@example.com)
Project 1: Hybrid Power Systems Incorporating Distributed Generation and Energy Storage
The Smart Grid Test-bed laboratory at the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Florida International University (FIU) was developed and implemented as an integrated hardware-based AC/DC Hybrid power system. This system is capable of producing power in AC (36 kW) and DC form (36 kW). The DC power is implemented on two microgrids connected to the AC network. This hardware/software/ communication – based system includes capabilities for the embedded system implementation of control strategies for generating stations, renewable source controllers and power transfer to programmable load hardware emulators in addition to energy storage facilities. This system is an excellent platform to enable testing and verifying new operation and control ideas. Appropriate software was developed to monitor all system parameters as well as operate and control the various interconnected components in varying connectivity architectures. The interconnection of alternative energy such as wind farm emulators, PV array and fuel cell emulators in addition to storage are implemented and integrated into this system in hardware and software format. This smart power system grid was developed for different applications as well as for studying smart grid operation, reliability and resiliency concepts. Various control scenarios for system startup and continuous operation in addition to an intelligent energy link integration between the AC and the microgrids were developed. This platform has many capabilities to perform experimental research and studies in addition to educational benefits using laboratory scale components in addition to commercial hardware to model the realistic behavior of a large power system. It is an excellent base not only for innovative research ideas, but also for teaching power system engineering concepts to students at the undergraduate and graduate levels and training engineers who are interested in testing new ideas for smart power system operation and control in a safe laboratory environment.
Project 2: Realistic Design and Prototyping of Power Conversion Modules and Real-time Evaluation
The Energy Systems Research Laboratory is equipped with an isolated chamber which can suppress electromagnetic radiation and measure the pure electromagnetic signals without any external interference. This enables performing tests, verification and conditional monitoring of electrical drives and power electronic converters through state-of-the-art technology for power electronic converters, drives, electric motors and generators, cables and transformers from scales of PCBs to real power like industrial modules. This research can be achieved by integrating numerical and physics based modeling using numerical techniques for electromagnetic interference evaluation for real time applications such as for prediction of radiated and conducted EMI and real time condition monitoring purposes. This work is extended for designing components that achieve national and international EMC standards, dynamic monitoring and diagnosing failures in power electronic modules in the time and frequency domain.
Qualifications: Basic knowledge of power systems, communication and circuit theory, fields and waves.
Contact: Professor Osama A. Mohammed (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The utilization of smart devices (e.g., phones and tablets) and wearable technologies (e.g., smart watches, health and fitness trackers) in our lives is continuously increasing with the emergence of new computing paradigms such as Internet of Things (IoT), Wearables, and Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) devices. According to some recent studies, by 2017, each person is expected to have on average five devices with an Internet connection. Given this popularity, in today’s Internet-centric world, these always-on, always-connected smart devices, IoT and CPS devices, and wearable technologies pose significant security challenges. For instance, an adversary can abuse these devices to access confidential information, spread viruses, and to spam or to conduct a social-engineering attack, possibly harming a legitimate user’s reputation and other users’ interest. Moreover, these devices are key elements of our nation’s critical infrastructure networks, including power plants, oil/gas pipelines, smart-grid, and nuclear plants. Unfortunately, these devices are under the constant threat of an increasing number of cyber attacks. Hence, it is crucial to understand the threat landscape for these various devices and protect users’ valuable assets (e.g., accounts, passwords) from malicious activities.
Students in this project will have a chance to learn the fundamental security concepts and investigate the security and insecurity of the smart IoT, CPS and wearable devices. Specifically, students will have a unique opportunity to improve their hands-on using real devices, including: smart watches (Sony, Samsung, LG, Motorola watches), smart thermostats (Google Nest), smart glasses (Google Glass), smart fitness trackers (Microsoft Band), drones (Bebop Drone), Infrared Motion Sensors (Microsoft Kinect, Leap Motion), robotic platforms (iRobot Create), Embedded Systems (Odrodid, Intel Galileo) while exploring the security capabilities of these devices (e.g., how much information they leak, how much privacy can be achieved). These devices (shown below) will be available to the students during their projects working under the supervision of Dr. Uluagac.
- Comfortable with programming in open source languages and platforms such as Java/C++, Python, and Android platform or prior programming experience with a strong interest and motivation to quickly learn the Android ecosystem,
- Knowledge/strong interest in security and networking fields is a plus, but not mandatory.
Contact: Dr. A. Selcuk Uluagac (email@example.com)
A keylogger causes all of user’s keystrokes to be leaked or misused. This opens the door for malicious developers to create keyloggers for the purpose of spying and/or fishing for users’ sensitive data. Users may unknowingly install keyloggers off the online markets or may use a keylogger that a malicious user with physical access has installed on their devices. A malicious developer may build a keylogger from scratch or use an existing keyboard. In both scenarios, certain capabilities (permissions) must be available to these keyboards such as the Internet capability. In this project, the REU student will develop a number of existing keyloggers available for Android phones and compare their features.
Qualifications: Programming (Java/C/C++)
Contact: Dr. Kemal Akkaya (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The proposed project will explore the applicability of utilizing network virtualization in Smart Environments. The objective is to create a security layer that connects, manages and extracts information from diverse wireless devices/components to a centralized location for security assessment and evaluation. The concepts and technologies of Software Defined Networking (SDN), with OpenFlow (open-source), enables real-time information extraction, collaboration, and effective security monitoring for centralized decision-making. In this project, the REU students will work under the supervision of faculty mentor Dr. Alex Pons to investigate and develop a software defined network (SDN)-based approach for Smart Environments.
The project consists in developing a working knowledge of SDN with Openflow as it pertains to computer networks. The students will implement a networking environment, which interconnects various common devices, such as tablets, servers, switches, etc. to develop an operational knowledge of the basis of SDN. This will provide the skills to research different alternative to expand these concepts to establish security capabilities into this environment. The objective is to propose security extensions to the SDN and evaluate these extensions using other open source tools and system.
- Working knowledge with C++ and Java programming languages and open source software and tools on Windows and Linux platforms.
- Knowledge/strong interest in security and networking fields.
Contact: Dr. Alex Pons (email@example.com)