The world is changing. All man-made devices are (being) connected through the Internet, and soon, through embedded in-body sensors, all men as well. We see a blending of the internet, as core communication infrastructure, with all sorts of other networks, such as energy networks, logistics networks, networks of people (social networks) and industrial networks. Next to people as end-users, more and more, machines themselves will be network end-users, with their own sensors and actuators. An example of this are vehicular networks, where cars communicate with each other to improve safety and efficiency. It is clear that the Internet has become the core infrastructure for our emerging digital society.
However, now that the Internet has become our core infrastructure, we should understand that we completely depend on the proper operation of this infrastructure. Since our society can’t sustain without the Internet, we must certify that we understand its operation and keep control over it, under all circumstances. Whereas that was easy just one or two decades ago, nowadays it is a real challenge, especially since a small number of big players and nation states gained control over major parts of our Internet and thus our society. As a consequence, our digital sovereignty is at stake, and Europe runs the risk of being digitally colonialized by others. But next to nation states that use cyberspace to get more influence, also traditional criminals have discovered the Internet to make money by performing large scale attacks on users and systems connected to the Internet.
The mission of DACS is to contribute to the development of the trusted and resilient Internet that is needed by our society. We do that by performing top research and by educating students. We investigate how to ensure complete control over our core Internet and its connected mobile and wireless communication infrastructures. To get control, a first step is to ensure that we can measure and analyse the traffic flowing over the Internet in order to detect anomalies and attacks. Next we investigate how to influence traffic routing over the Internet and mitigate attacks by filtering traffic. Finally, we certify that systems connected to the Internet operate precisely as described by designing future network systems.
The focus of DACS research is in two areas: network (Internet) security and wireless networks and mobility.
In the area of network security, we investigate the detection and mitigation of Internet attacks as well as the design of secure (core) network systems.
For attack detection and mitigation, we take a measurement-based approach, to get inspired by the real-world scenario’s and to ensure our models are representative. We create data lakes and use big data analysis techniques to find potential threats. The data we analyse include network flows, data from the Domain Name System (DNS, the “yellow pages” of the internet), routing information (BGP, the Border Gateway Protocol) as well as web certificates (SSL, TLS). The security problems on which we focus include Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks as well as Botnets.
For the design of secure (core) network systems we study approaches to improve the transparency and security of packet switches and routers. We therefore follow Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Open Networking principles. We use programming languages such as defined for “Programming Protocol-Independent Packet Processors” (P4), and experiment with systems such as SCION and RINA. Our goal is to facilitate secure routing and network / device attestation within critical networks.
Wireless Networks and Mobility
Next to our activities on Internet security, we focus on networking solutions for smart mobility applications, especially on the use of vehicular networking for automated driving. Here wireless communication plays two important roles: exchanging and processing (sensor) data beyond the scope of a single vehicle, and coordinated control of vehicles. Key challenges here are: to develop scalable protocols and algorithms to meet the very stringent reliability and real-time requirements; to make models that can predict the joint behavior of coordinated control and the underlying wireless system; and to develop systems that can exploit the huge amounts of data that are becoming available from the environment of a vehicle in real-time to improve the control of the vehicle.
Numerical overview of DACS results
UT funding (k€)
(All text and data from UT/EWI/QAR 2017)