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Identification and Investigation of Cyber Risk Hotspots in a Large Computer Network

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Abstract: Quantifying the risk of cyber-attacks due to software applications on a computer network at any given time, measuring the impact of an attack, and understanding attack patterns, are complex and challenging tasks. The complexity is compounded by an increasing number of networked devices being brought into modern networked environments on an ad-hoc basis. Such devices often have a large number of software applications (‘apps’) installed, which can leave the devices, and subsequently the whole network, vulnerable to cyber threats. Given the vulnerabilities inherent in ‘apps’ running on these devices, with new ones being discovered by cyber criminals on a daily basis; and the variance in the severity of an exploit, conducting real-time risk assessments and determining the most pertinent risks to manage at any given time is far from straightforward. A need arises for an effective, cost-efficient and reliable mechanism for continuously monitoring and assessing risk arising due to software applications. In this talk, I will present a risk assessment framework that could help in: i) identifying cyber-risk hotspots emerging over a period of time in a computer network; and ii) investigating the causes of emerging cyber risk hotspots associated with a particular software application. A real-world case study will be used for validating the risk assessment framework.

Bio: Shahzad Awan is a research associate in the School of Computer Science & Informatics at Cardiff University working on an EPSRC funded project – “Identifying and modelling victim, business, regulatory and malware behaviours in a changing cyber threat landscape”. His research interests include cybersecurity, data mining/analysis, big data and distributed systems. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Warwick, UK.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Security Seminar series.

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