MDH research to improve protection against cyber attacks

Feb 15, 2018 | Research/Cooperation

Researchers at MDH have been granted 28 million SEK for the research project Serendipity – Safe and Reliable Platforms for Autonomy. The purpose of the project is to improve protection against cyber attacks in safety critical systems.


– Cyber security is an area which has been identified as strategically important and where the whole society needs to be better at protecting itself from cyber attacks, since they are becoming increasingly more common. So it feels great that we now have the means to research the area, says Mikael Sjödin, who is the project manager of the research project.

For the next five years the researchers in the project will be looking at how cyber security in safety critical systems, that is to say the computer systems steering all the technology around us, can be improved. When it comes to safety critical systems researchers have traditionally focused on getting the systems to work when something unforeseen goes wrong, such as when a bug appears in the system for example. But cyber security is about getting the systems to continue to work even when something unforeseen does go wrong, in other words when the system is exposed to a cyber attack.

– We’ll be investigating how safety critical systems will be able to go on working despite their being exposed to cyber attacks. For example, we will study systems in aeroplanes which will be able to land on their own, and in self-driving vehicles. If for example an industrial robot is exposed to a cyber attack, it will be possible to shut down the robot while the damage from the attack is being repaired. But an autonomous vehicle or aeroplane can’t be shut down if it’s exposed to a cyber attack. Therefore we want to find solutions that enable the vehicle to carry on working, despite a cyber attack, says Mikel Sjödin.     

The project is funded by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, SSF, and comprises three subprojects with a focus on requirements management, modelling and the upholding of security even when the system is under attack. By improving cyber security in safety critical systems, the systems will be less vulnerable and the risk that authorities, industries, infrastructure and other important functions in society will be exposed to an attack will decrease.   

– Since today’s society is built up around technology, a cyber attack can wipe out an entire community. So the project is partly about improving individual products, and partly about making sure that we have a robust society that can withstand attacks from criminals, but also attacks from other nations, says Mikael Sjödin.