Investment in Research on Secure Systems to Withstand Cyberattacks

10 March 2020

Cybersecurity has become increasingly important as the digitalisation of industry gathers pace. Attacks on digitally controlled physical systems such as self-driving vehicles may have devastating consequences. André Teixeira, recently awarded a grant from the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research’s Future Research Leaders programme, is leading a research project on more secure industrial control systems.

André Teixeira of Uppsala University’s Department
of Electrical Engineering

The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SFF) announced 20 grants to Future Research Leaders aimed at promoting the development of young scholars who have the aptitude to become future leaders of academic and/or industrial research in Sweden. Each grantee receives SEK 12 million over a five-year period and is required to participate in a leadership training programme. One of these researchers is André Teixeira of Uppsala University’s Department of Electrical Engineering, who is leading the project Analysis and Design of Secure and Resilient Control Systems (ADSec). 

His field of research is at the intersection between automatic control, information technology and cybersecurity. One example is the control systems in self-driving vehicles, which are designed to work autonomously and handle disruptions and noisy measurements. These types of control system are vulnerable to damaging cyberattacks against digital devices and communications.

“The project will initially develop methods and tools to support designers in analysing cybersecurity risks in control systems. The project will then offer new systematic design methods that can be used to build control systems that can withstand attacks,” explains André Teixeira.

Cyberattacks can have devastating consequences

Cybersecurity is a critical issue in all control systems in which digital controllers interact closely with the physical world, an increasingly relevant concern given the ever-increasing digitalisation of our industries. Cyberattacks on digitally controlled physical systems can have devastating consequences.

“The fact is, modern industrial control systems are already using IT infrastructure to autonomously run critical physical processes such as chemical plants, power grids and transport systems. It is vital to protect this critical infrastructure,” says André Teixeira.

There are already two other projects underway at Uppsala University in the field of cybersecurity financed by SFF, aSSIsT and LifeSec. There are also several related projects being conducted at the University with external funding. The combined expertise of the Department of Information Technology is gathered on the Cyber Security Arena website.

“I very much hope that the grant I have received through the Future Research Leaders programme will contribute to reinforcing study and research programmes in the field of cybersecurity at Uppsala University,” says André Teixeira.

Future Research Leaders

Two researchers at Uppsala University have been announced as Future Research Leaders in the latest call:

  • André Teixeira of the Department of Electrical Engineering, for the project Analysis and Design of Secure and Resilient Control Systems; and 
  • Mikael Sellin of the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, for the project Analysis of the intestinal flora's anti-infective potential in organoids