'I do what I do because I firmly believe that cyber security is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century.'
Paving the way for a cybersafe world
In the last few decades, the world has undergone exponential technological growth. This has of course paved the way for cybercriminals to find creative ways to hack through digital defences. Australians lose more than $10 million to scammers annually, with one in three Aussies impacted by data breaches that expose their personal details.
Professor Robin Doss and the team at Deakin University’s The Centre for Cyber Resilience and Trust (CREST) are working to advance digital practices to protect against unauthorised data access and empower stakeholders to proactively respond to cybercriminal threats.
‘I do what I do because I firmly believe that cyber security is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century,’ says Prof. Doss.
‘It underpins confidence and trust in business, government, and systems. If people, organisations and communities are to thrive in the digital world then ensuring the security and safety of cyberspace is paramount.’
Engineer turned cybercrime fighter
‘When I first began studying, cyber security was not an established field, it was very much a job of the future.’
Prof. Doss obtained a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Madras in India, a Masters in computer systems and a PhD in wireless communications from RMIT University before joining Deakin in 2003. In 2015, he received the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Contributions thanks to his research.
‘I’m proud to say my studies provided a strong foundation to work in the field and it’s thrilling to have had such early experiences working with industry experts and other researchers. I found “iron sharpens iron” to be true and their mentorship absolutely helped hone my expertise,’ he says.
Tackling cyber threats to ‘protect Australian communities’
Prof. Doss hopes his team’s research into cyber resilience can enable people, organisations and communities to thrive in a digital society.
‘We take a holistic approach, meaning that our work draws on fields such as computer science, information systems, criminology and law to ensure safety and security when Australians are online,’ he says.
Prof. Doss’ own research centres on systems security, protocol design and security analysis, with a focus on smart cyber-physical critical infrastructure. His work has been funded by the Australian Research Council; government agencies, such as the Defence (now Australian) Signals Directorate; the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science; and various industry partners. He has contributed to large multi-year projects under the European Union’s Framework Program and has been funded by the Indian Government under its Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration.
CREST’s diverse body of work has also included a partnership with Bosch Australia to improve the cyber safety of the autonomous cars of tomorrow. Prof. Doss is currently engaged in several projects, including working with the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA) to assess the utility of cyber harm prevention programs through a cyber insurance lens, plus a Deakin-led project to create next-gen authentication technologies of national significance.
In 2019, Prof. Doss was recognised for his innovative thinking and named Cyber Security Researcher of the Year by the Australian Information Security Association (AISA). He is also a member of the executive council of the IoT Alliance Australia; the Founding Chair of the Future Network Systems and Security conference series; and an Associate Editor for the journal Cyber Physical Systems.
A challenging and fulfilling field
Prof. Doss is committed to supporting our next generation of research stars. He has supervised more than 20 PhD candidates since 2009.
He advises prospective students looking towards a career in cyber security to ‘go for it.’
‘It’s a very challenging and fulfilling field to be in. I encourage students from all fields to consider cyber security as a potential direction – the complexity of the challenge always requires a multi-disciplinary response.
‘From ensuring national security and sovereignty to protecting people from romance scams, our research impact has potential to make a real difference to the lives of people and our communities.’
The Centre for Cyber Resilience and Trust
We sat down with Prof. Robin Doss to find out about the Centre for Cyber Resilience and Trust (CREST).
What is the Centre for Cyber Resilience and Trust (CREST) and what inspired you to become its Director?
CREST is a multi-disciplinary research centre, based within Deakin's Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment. Our purpose is to advance cyber resilience and trust to empower people, organisations, and communities to thrive in a digital society.
CREST researchers represent a diverse section of academic fields from across Deakin’s faculties and include Adjunct Industry Professors who are experts working within the private sector. We work with industry and government leaders on innovative research that has real-world impact.
CREST adopts a holistic approach, principally drawing on computer science, information systems, criminology, and law, to address these interrelated areas of impact:
- advancing cyber security technologies
- securing data and infrastructure
- promoting cybersafe behaviours
- disrupting cyber harms
- harmonising cyber governance
I was inspired to become CREST’s Director because I believe Deakin possesses a unique multidisciplinary capability in cyber security that can deliver significant real-world impact. The positioning of CREST as a Strategic Research and Innovation Centre (SRIC) demonstrates that cyber security is a priority for Deakin, which is exciting to me.
What do you think distinguishes CREST from other research institutes in this field?
Our researchers represent a diverse span of expertise, and our membership includes executive cyber security leaders from some of Australia’s best-known companies. This broad network, combined with our state-of-the-art facilities, means we are uniquely positioned to deliver the value of research to the community.
How does CREST contribute to Deakin’s strategic priorities? What are your priorities for the Centre?
One of Deakin’s key priorities is creating safer communities and CREST does this in a number of ways:
- Engaging in meaningful projects that solve real-world problems such as protection of critical infrastructure, policing cybercrime, advancing cyber policy and law.
- Working closely with industry partners on innovative ways to improve cyber security resilience for their organisations.
- Demonstrating thought leadership – every quarter we bring together more than 60 of Australia’s leaders in industry and government to discuss and workshop improvements to cyber security, address skill shortages, set the research agenda and share knowledge and skills with a focus on helping all Australians.
What are some major projects the Centre is working on?
Some of our major research projects include:
Securing the future of autonomous driving
Cars of the future will talk to each other. They will be wirelessly connected to vehicles around them and we’ll likely not be driving them.
CREST researchers are working with Bosch Australia to help ensure that next-generation vehicles are cyber-safe. We’re developing new technologies, platforms and software to support self-driving technologies in vehicles of the future.
Protecting critical infrastructure
In collaboration with Tata Consulting Services (TCS), CSIRO/Data 61 and the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre (CSCRC), CREST researchers are developing next generation authentication technologies to protect assets within critical infrastructures such as energy, defence, transport, and space from sophisticated adversaries (including state-based actors).
Cutting-edge ‘zero trust’ authentication technologies leveraging ambient intelligence are being developed to increase the cyber resilience of critical infrastructures and to improve protective cyber deception capabilities.
Disrupting cyber harm
The elevated risk of cyber threats has made it increasingly difficult for organisations to both secure and afford cyber insurance in a globally distressed insurance market.
In partnership with the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA), CREST is undertaking research into assessing the utility of cyber harm prevention programs from a cyber insurance perspective.
The research outcomes will inform the development of a roadmap for the implementation of an evidence-based proactive interventions program across the Victorian public sector, positioning Victoria as a national leader in this space.
Higher Degree by Research
What disciplines are you looking for in your PhD and research degree students and how can prospective students engage with your Centre?
Our PhD and research degree students come from a range of disciplines including computer science, information systems, law, psychology and policy. Students work within research teams to investigate emerging social-technical issues and challenges in cyber security through a range of transdisciplinary research projects. This is reflective of CREST’s aim to address emerging cybersecurity challenges through a multi-disciplinary lens.
CREST research supervisors are passionate about supporting and mentoring students to achieve their goals. As dedicated specialists, they provide students with enriching and rewarding research experiences. Students can also access scholarships to financially support themselves throughout their research program.
Students can undertake a PhD or Master of Science in their interest area of cyber security.
To find out more, please send an enquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org
How do PhD and research degree students contribute to CREST’s work? Where do you see your current students working in the future? How do you see them contributing to the field?
PhD and research degree students are a key component of the research and innovation activities of the Centre. PhD projects are often designed to explore fundamental research questions that lead to ground-breaking discoveries. Hence, we are always seeking to work with and support highly motivated HDR students.
We offer opportunities for students to engage in summer scholarships, research internships and research training programs. Students also attend our regular online webinars delivered by leading researchers and industry executives.
CREST prepares students for working in operational roles, strategic positions and jobs in research and development. We see our students working within industry and government, leading strategy and policy development, security operations and uplifting organisational and national security, as well as developing the next generation of cybersecurity technologies. Graduates can also enter legislative roles within government and in cybercrime prevention and policing roles.
What advice can you provide to a prospective student looking to work in the same field?
Go for it! It is a challenging and very fulfilling area of research to focus on – your research outcomes have the potential to make a real difference to the lives of people and communities. Your impact can range from ensuring national security and sovereignty through to protecting individuals from romance scams.
I would encourage students from all fields to consider cyber security as a potential direction – the complexity of the challenge requires a multi-disciplinary response.
The future of CREST
- Our contributions to the ‘quantum’ world – both in terms of the use of quantum technologies for improving cyber security, protecting infrastructures and data from quantum-capable adversaries.
- Our contributions to policing cybercrime – better understanding of cybercrime networks and their organisation and effective deterrents and mitigation strategies.
- Our contributions to promoting cyber safe behaviours – achieving a reduction in cyber harms by improving cyber safe practices, behaviours, and habits.
- Our contributions to harmonising cyber governance – ensuring there are the right regulatory and legislative frameworks for empowering and thriving digital society that is responsible, ethical and inclusive.
What do you think will be some of the most exciting or ground-breaking uses of CREST’s research in 10-20 years’ time?