NTU Singapore and Ben-Gurion University Ink Partnership to Combat Advanced Cyber Threats​​

cyber threats
BGU Vice-President and Dean (Research and Development) Prof Dan Blumberg (left) and NTU Singapore Chief of Staff and Vice-President (Research) Prof Lam Khin Yong (right) complete the formalities to the agreement that will see both universities collaborate to find innovative ways to tackle advanced cyber threats. (Photo credit: Gilad Kavalerchik​)

Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) are collaborating to find innovative ways to counter cyber threats.

The aim of this joint research project, called the Bio-Inspired Agile Cyber Security Assurance Framework (BICSAF), is to develop innovative technologies for tackling Advanced Persistent Threats.

These are stealthy and continuous computer hacking processes run by individuals who target specific entities, such as private organisations and state agencies. Their long periods of covertness make it difficult to detect such threats with current technology.

NTU Chief of Staff and Vice-President (Research) Prof Lam Khin Yong and BGU Vice-President and Dean (Research & Development) Prof Dan Blumberg signed the joint research agreement at the CyberTech Conference in Tel AvivIsrael, on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 (Wednesday, 1 February, Singapore time). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the event’s guest-of-honour.

The project will have S$3 million in joint funding from NTU, BGU and the National Research Foundation (NRF), Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore. The collaboration is supported by NRF through its National Cybersecurity R&D Programme.

Led by the Cyber Security Research Centre at NTU, faculty and researchers from both universities will be involved. In developing new technologies to counter cyber threats, the two partners are inspired by the ability of the human body immune system to adapt to and fight ever-evolving bacteria and viruses.

Prof Lam Khin Yong said, “Through this partnership, NTU and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev will be able to develop innovative methods for combating one of the most complicated problems in cyber security – Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs). This project will leverage on NTU’s strong hardware-based research expertise and BGU’s software-based core competences to combat this intractable problem.”

NTU has invested heavily in its cyber security expertise in recent years, including a S$2.5 million partnership last year with BAE Systems to jointly develop next-generation cybersecurity solutions.

BGU has deep expertise in cyber security research and is at the heart of efforts to turn Beer-Sheva, Israel into a national and international cyber hub.

Prof Dan Blumberg said, “BGU and NTU recognise the grave necessity of stopping Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), which are some of the hardest cyber attacks to detect, and have allocated significant funding over two years to develop early detection methods.

“Cyber security is a global threat which has become a research topic of increasing interest at BGU and we are pleased to be collaborating with our partners in Singapore to stem the tide.”

Mr George Loh, Director (Programmes) of NRF and Co-Chair of the National Cybersecurity R&D Programme Committee, said, “Singapore has established a holistic national cybersecurity strategy that will support our Smart Nation vision and enhance Singapore’s standing as a trusted digital hub. It is critical for Singapore to develop strong cybersecurity capabilities to protect our critical infrastructures such as our public transport systems, public safety systems, and energy systems, which are interconnected elements contributing to the quality of life for Singaporeans.

“The collaboration between NTU and BGU will explore novel ideas to develop cyber-immune technologies to fight external adversaries that launch cyber-attacks on our critical systems, much like how our biological immune system works.”

The Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering at BGU is the largest in Israel, with significant resources in cyber security research.

BGU also set up the Cyber Security Research Centre with the Israel National Cyber Bureau to identify risks while protecting critical national infrastructure.