Research Group on Cyber War and Peace

Researchers at UNSW Canberra have set up Australia's first university-based research group on cyber war and peace to leverage existing capabilities in Australia and beyond to promote advanced study of key issues. The group is open to researchers based in universities, think tanks, the armed forces, relevant government agencies and professional organisations.  Among Australian universities, UNSW has the most extensive and innovative program for research and education on national security aspects of cyber space. Our researchers collaborate regularly with the Defence Science and Technology Group and other government agencies. UNSW is home to Australia's only Master's degrees in "cyber war and peace" and "cyber adversary tradecraft". We accept applications for Ph students on a rolling basis and occasionally advertise post-doctoral positions. The research group on cyber war and peace is coordinated by Professors Greg Austin and Jill Slay. Contact G.Austin@unsw.edu.au.

With the announcement on 30 June 2017 that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has established a new Information Warfare Division, the research group will pay special attention to basic research supportive of the digital revolution that the ADF has launched.

Notable scholarly research publications in 2016 and 2017* include:

Australia Re-armed: Future Needs for Cyber Enabled Warfare
The Military Cyber-Maturity Model - Preparing Modern Cyber-Enabled Military Forces for Future Conflicts
Integrating Cyber Survivability into ADF Platform Development
Killer Artificial Intelligence
Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems: Proliferation, Disengagement and Disempowerment
Australia's Response to Advanced Technology Threats
Robots Writing Chinese and Fighting
Pre-emption is Victory: Aggravated Nuclear Instability in the Information Age (in print)
The Cyber Simulation Terrain: Towards an open source cyber effects simulation ontology
System of systems cyber effects simulation ontology
Balancing War and Justice Impulses in Cyberspace
Getting Cyber-Security Policies that Penetrate Australian Defence Acquisitions
Australia's future submarine: shaping early adaptive designs through test and evaluation
International Legal Norms in Cyberspace: Evolution of China's National Security Motivations
 
* Web links will be added in due course
 

Signature Research Topics across the Team (including Ph D students):

  1. Cyber-enabled War: ontology, military maturity and ADF capability
  2. Assessing Mission Critical Aspects of Cyber Attack and Defence
  3. Cyber Intrusions, Detection and Forensics
  4. Cyber Education and Skilling, especially for security agencies
  5. Computer-human interaction
  6. Cyber Dependency and Resilience of Critical Infrastructure
  7. Cyber Diplomacy, International Threat Environment and National Policy Responses
  8. Lethal autonomous weapon systems

Research questions under active investigation include:

  1. How should middle powers (like Australia) develop operational cyber warfare capability?
  2. How should middle powers (like Australia) move more rapidly to adjust to new national security needs in cyber space, especially in the face of developments in the United States, China and Russia?
  3. What are the most effective mechanisms for restraining the cyber arms  among major powers or creating confidence building regimes in cyber space?
  4. In middle powers like Australia, what does situational awareness and preparedness look like for national security decision-makers responsible for civil sector resilience in (unlikely) circumstances of wide-ranging, mid-intensity cyber-attacks by a foreign state?
  5. What is the impact of Big Data and IoT on the traditional DIgital Forensic Techniques used in evidence and intelligence collection?
  6. How to secure modern ICS and SCADA systems?  Culture and technology in this context?
  7. What are the most effective ways to ensure that systems can be factorized to minimize the trusted components and attack surface?
  8. How should we plan for cyber security tomorrow?  What mix of skills is needed in the next generation of experts?
  9. How to address growing interactions and complexity between Digital and Physical world in era of Industrial IoT to defend Australian Critical Infrastructure in cyber space?
  10. How to protect and keep sensitive data from modern ICS and legacy SCADA systems safe and secure within a new networked world?  (address new trends such as  BYO, mobility, cloud)
  11. In middle powers like Australia, what are the most effective practices in cyber resilience of mission-critical systems to apply for developing Defence cyber survivability T&E?
  12. How can we understand and predict the actual mission-based effects of a cyber attack against a computer network?
  13. How can we provide ‘better’ (more effective, easier to use, more automated) tools to detect, understand, and minimise the effect of breaches across networks?
  14. How can we collect data from live networks with minimal impact and through maximising privacy?
  15. How can analysis of the core computing resources elements (CPU cycles, memory use, network connectivity, etc) be better used to detect contemporary and next generation network security breaches effectively and accurately?
  16. What are the most effective methods for exploiting modern computing systems in the presence of existing controls, and how can these exploit techniques be subsequently mitigated?
  17. What are the most effective mechanisms for quantitatively evaluating the level of security present in embedded systems?
  18. How one can design and develop a game design framework, which enhances individual’s behaviour through their motivation to adhere the best practices when setting up access control?
  19. How one can design and develop a bespoke fall-back authentication mechanism as an extra layer of security?
  20. Who are the Australian heroes of the Australian information revolution and why did they succeed?
  21. What are the ideal charcateristics of Australia's national innovation system for military and internal security purposes?