Computer Science Department, University of Malaga
Campus de Teatinos s/n,29071 - Malaga (Spain)
Phone: +34 952139313 Fax: +34 951952749
- Ramón y Cajal postdoctoral fellowship, Economy and Competitiveness Ministry Spain, 2015.
- Marie-Curie postdoctoral researcher at Royal Holloway, University of London, Department of Mathematics, University of London, U.K., August 2012 - August 2014.
- Guest Researcher at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Washington D.C., United States, November 2011 - August 2012.
- Ph.D. in Computer Science with European Doctorate mention, University of Malaga (Spain), September, 2011.
- Title of PhD thesis: "Interconnected Sensor Networks for Critical Information Infrastructure Protection".
- Advisor: Prof. Javier Lopez
- M.Sc. in Computer Science, University of Malaga, Malaga, 2003-2006.
- B.Sc. in Computer Science, University of Malaga, 1997-2003.
- Seguridad de la Información ( office hours: Monday 13:00 to 15:00
- Administración de Equipos y Sistemas en Red Tuesday 10:30 to 12:30
Thursday 10:30 to 12:30 (virtual) )
Scope of Research
- Secure monitoring and control in Critical Systems
- Smart Grids Security and Privacy
- Security in Industry 4.0 Infrastructures
- Cyber-Physical Systems Security
- Editorial Board Member:
- Security and Communication Networks (SCN), John Wiley & Sons.
- International Journal of Critical Infrastructure Protection (IJCIP), Springer.
- Transactions on Emerging Telecomunications Technologies (ETT), John Wiley & Sons.
- Telecommunication Systems (TELS), Springer.
- International Journal of Critical Infrastructures (IJCIS), Inderscience Publishers.
- European CIIP Member Newsletter (ECN).
- Ad Hoc Networks, Elsevier (2014-2016).
- Computers & Electrical Engineering (CAEE), Elsevier Science (2013-2016).
- Guest Editor:
- M. Aguilar, C. Tripp, C. Alcaraz, Special Issue on Performance Modeling and Analysis of Wireless Ad-Hoc and Sensor Networks, Ad Hoc Networks Journal, Elsevier, 2016.
- N. Sklavos, S. Zeadally, C. Alcaraz, Special Issue on Modern Trends in Applied Security: Architectures, Implementations and Applications, Computers & Electrical Engineering, Elsevier Science Press, 2011.
- IEEE Technical Committees:
Relevant Publications and/or Recent Publications:
- "A Cyber-Physical Systems-Based Checkpoint Model for Structural Controllability",
In IEEE Systems Journal , IEEE , In Press.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2016: 3.882 Impact Factor: 3.882Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2016)
- "OCPP Protocol: Security Threats and Challenges",
In IEEE Transaction on Smart Grid, vol. 8, issue 5, IEEE, pp. 2452 - 2459, 02/2017.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2016: 6.645
One benefit postulated for the adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs) is their ability to act as stabilizing entities in smart grids through bi-directional charging, allowing local or global smoothing of peaks and imbalances. This benefit, however, hinges indirectly on the reliability and security of the power flows thus achieved. Therefore this paper studies key security properties of the alreadydeployed Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) specifying communication between charging points and energy management systems. It is argued that possible subversion or malicious endpoints in the protocol can also lead to destabilization of power networks. Whilst reviewing these aspects, we focus, from a theoretical and practical standpoint, on attacks that interfere with resource reservation originating with the EV, which may also be initiated by a man in the middle, energy theft or fraud. Such attacks may even be replicated widely, resulting in over- or undershooting of power network provisioning, or the (total/partial) disintegration of the integrity and stability of power networks.Impact Factor: 6.645Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2016)
- Preventing Advanced Persistent Threats in Complex Control Networks , 22nd European Symposium on Research in Computer Security (ESORICS 2017), In Press.
- "Resilient Interconnection in Cyber-Physical Control Systems",
In Computers & Security, Elsevier, In Press.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2016: 2.849 DOI
Secure interconnection between multiple cyber-physical systems has become a fundamental requirement in many critical infrastructures, where security may be centralized in a few nodes of the system. These nodes could, for example, have the mission of addressing the authorization services required for access in highlyrestricted remote substations. For this reason, the main aim of this paper is to unify all these features, together with the resilience measures so as to provide control at all times under a limited access in the field and avoid congestion. Concretely, we present here an optimal reachability-based restoration approach, capable of restoring the structural control in linear times taking into account: structural controllability, the supernode theory, the good practices of the IEC-62351 standard and the contextual conditions. For context management, a new attribute is specified to provide a more complete authorization service based on a practical policy, role and attribute-based access control (PBAC + RBAC + ABAC). To validate the approach, two case studies are also discussed under two strategic adversarial models.Impact Factor: 2.849Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2016)
- "Safeguarding Structural Controllability in Cyber-Physical Control Systems",
In The 21st European Symposium on Research in Computer Security (ESORICS 2016), vol. 9879, Springer, pp. 471-489, 2016.
Automatic restoration of control wireless networks based on dynamic cyber-physical systems has become a hot topic in recent years, since most of their elements tend to have serious vulnerabilities that may be exploited by attackers. In fact, any exploitation may rapidly extend to the entire control network due to its problem of non-locality, where control properties of a system and its structural controllability can disintegrate over time. Unfortunately, automated self-healing processes may become costly procedures in which the reliability of the strategies and the time-critical of any recovery of the control can become key factors to re-establish the control properties in due time. This operational need is precisely the aim of this paper, in which four reachability-based recovery strategies from a thereotical point of view are proposed so as to find the best option/s in terms of optimization, robustness and complexity. To do this, new definitions related to structural controllability in relation to the type of distribution of the network and its control load capacity are given in this paper, resulting in an interesting practical study.
- "Recommender System for Privacy-Preserving Solutions in Smart Metering",
In Pervasive and Mobile Computing, Pervasive and Mobile Computing, 2017.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2016: 2.349
Nowadays, Smart Grid is envisaged to provide several benefits to both customers and grid operators. However, Smart Meters introduce many privacy issues if consumption data is analysed. In this paper we analyse the main techniques that address privacy when collecting electricity readings. In addition to privacy, it is equally important to preserve efficiency to carry on with monitoring operations, so further control requirements and communication protocols are also studied. Our aim is to provide guidance to installers who intend to integrate such mechanisms on the grid, presenting an expert system to recommend an appropriate deployment strategy.Impact Factor: 2.349Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2016)
- "Cyber Stealth Attacks in Critical Information Infrastructures",
In IEEE Systems Journal, issue 99, IEEE, pp. 1-15, 03/2016.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2016: 3.882 DOI
Current Critical Infrastructures (CIs) are complex interconnected industrial systems that, in recent years, have incorporated information and communications technologies such as connection to the Internet and commercial off-the-shelf components. This makes them easier to operate and maintain, but exposes them to the threats and attacks that inundate conventional networks and systems. This paper contains a comprehensive study on the main stealth attacks that threaten CIs, with a special focus on Critical Information Infrastructures (CIIs). This type of attack is characterized by an adversary who is able to finely tune his actions to avoid detection while pursuing his objectives. To provide a complete analysis of the scope and potential dangers of stealth attacks we determine and analyze their stages and range, and we design a taxonomy to illustrate the threats to CIs, offering an overview of the applicable countermeasures against these attacks. From our analysis we understand that these types of attacks, due to the interdependent nature of CIs, pose a grave danger to critical systems where the threats can easily cascade down to the interconnected systems.Impact Factor: 3.882Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2016)
- Citekey alcaraz:2015:POL not found
- "Dynamic Restoration in Interconnected RBAC-based Cyber-Physical Control Systems",
In Proceedings of the 13th International Joint Conference on e-Business and Telecommunications (SECRYPT 2016), pp. 19-27, 2016.
Increasingly, automatic restoration is an indispensable security measure in control systems (e.g. those used in critical infrastructure sectors) due to the importance of ensuring the functionality of monitoring infrastructures. Modernizing the interconnection of control systems to provide interoperability between different networks, at a low cost, is also a critical requirement in control systems. However, automated recovery mechanisms are currently costly, and ensuring interoperability particularly at a low cost remains a topic of scientific challenge. This is the gap we seek to address in this paper. More specifically, we propose a restoration model for interconnected contexts, taking into account the theory of supernode and structural controllability, as well as the recommendations given by the IEC-62351-8 standard (which are mainly based on the implementation of a role-based access control system).
- "Selecting Privacy Solutions to Prioritise Control in Smart Metering Systems",
In The 11th International Conference on Critical Information Infrastructures Security, vol. LNCS, In Press.
The introduction of the Smart Grid brings with it several benefits to society, because its bi-directional communication allows both users and utilities to have better control over energy usage. However, it also has some privacy issues with respect to the privacy of the customers when analysing their consumption data. In this paper we review the main privacy-preserving techniques that have been proposed and compare their efficiency, to accurately select the most appropriate ones for undertaking control operations. Both privacy and performance are essential for the rapid adoption of Smart Grid technologies.
- "Critical Infrastructure Protection: Requirements and Challenges for the 21st Century",
In International Journal of Critical Infrastructure Protection (IJCIP), vol. 8, Elsevier Science, pp. 53–66, 01/2015.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2015: 1.351 DOI
Critical infrastructures play a vital role in supporting modern society. The reliability, performance, continuous operation, safety, maintenance and protection of critical infrastructures are national priorities for countries around the world. This paper explores the vulnerabilities and threats facing modern critical infrastructures with special emphasis on industrial control systems, and describes a number of protection measures. The paper also discusses some of the challenging areas related to critical infrastructure protection such as governance and security management, secure network architectures, self-healing, modeling and simulation, wide-area situational awareness, forensics and learning, and trust management and privacy.Impact Factor: 1.351Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2015)
- "Awareness and Reaction Strategies for Critical Infrastructure Protection",
In Computers and Electrical Engineering, vol. 47, issue October, Elsevier, pp. 299-317, 2015.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2015: 1.084 DOI
Current Critical Infrastructures (CIs) need intelligent automatic active reaction mechanisms to protect their critical processes against cyber attacks or system anomalies, and avoid the disruptive consequences of cascading failures between interdependent and interconnected systems. In this paper we study the Intrusion Detection, Prevention and Response Systems (IDPRS) that can offer this type of protection mechanisms, their constituting elements and their applicability to critical contexts. We design a methodological framework determining the essential elements present in the IDPRS, while evaluating each of their sub-components in terms of adequacy for critical contexts. We review the different types of active and passive countermeasures available, categorizing them and assessing whether or not they are suitable for Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP). Through our study we look at different reaction systems and learn from them how to better create IDPRS solutions for CIP.Impact Factor: 1.084Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2015)
- Citekey lorena:2015c not found
- "WASAM: A Dynamic Wide-Area Situational Awareness Model for Critical Domains in Smart Grids",
In Future Generation Computer Systems, vol. 30, Elsevier, pp. 146-154, 2014.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2014: 2.786 DOI
Control from anywhere and at anytime is nowadays a matter of paramount importance in critical systems. This is the case of the Smart Grid and its domains which should be monitored through intelligent and dynamic mechanisms able to anticipate, detect and respond before disruptions arise within the system. Given this fact and its importance for social welfare and the economy, a model for wide-area situational awareness is proposed in this paper. The model is based on a set of current technologies such as the wireless sensor networks, the ISA100.11a standard and cloud-computing together with a set of high-level functional services. These services include global and local support for prevention through a simple forecast scheme, detection of anomalies in the observation tasks, response to incidents, tests of accuracy and maintenance, as well as recovery of states and control in crisis situations.Impact Factor: 2.786Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2014)
- "Diagnosis Mechanism for Accurate Monitoring in Critical Infrastructure Protection",
In Computer Standards & Interfaces, vol. 36, issue 3, Elsevier, pp. 501-512, 2014.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2014: 0.879 DOI
Situational awareness for critical infrastructure protection, such as for energy control systems, has become a topic of interest in recent years. Despite attempts to address this area of research, more progress is still necessary to find attractive solutions that help bring about prevention and response at all times from anywhere and at any time. Given this need, we therefore propose in this paper, a smart mechanism able to offer a wide-area situational awareness with the ability to: (i) Control the real state of the observed infrastructure, (ii) respond to emergency situations and (iii) assess the degree of ccuracy of the entire control system. To address these aspects, the mechanism is based on a hierarchical configuration of industrial sensors for control, the ISA100.11a standard for the prioritization and alarm management, and the F-Measure technique to study the level of accuracy of a sensor inside a neighbourhood. As proof of the functionality and feasibility of the mechanism for critical contexts, a software application implemented in nesC and Java is also presented in this paper.Impact Factor: 0.879Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2014)
- "Critical Control System Protection in the 21st Century: Threats and Solutions",
In IEEE Computer, vol. 46, no. 10, IEEE Computer Society, pp. 74 - 83, 2013.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2013: 1.438 DOI
Information systems, networks, and technologies have become an integral part of modern critical control systems that manage many of today&#x2019;s critical infrastructures. The continuous operation, maintenance, and protection of critical infrastructures have become a high national priority for governments around the world because our society heavily depends on them for most of our daily activities (travel, power usage, banking transactions, telecommunications, etc) and safety. It is therefore critical that these infrastructures have to be protected from potential accidental incidents or cyberattacks. We present the fundamental architectural components of critical control systems which manage most critical infrastructures. We identify some of the vulnerabilities and threats to modern critical control systems followed by protection solutions that can be deployed to mitigate attacks exploiting these vulnerabilities.Impact Factor: 1.438Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2013)
- "Wide-Area Situational Awareness for Critical Infrastructure Protection",
In IEEE Computer, vol. 46, no. 4, IEEE Computer Society, pp. 30-37, 2013.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2013: 1.438 DOI
Combining a wide-area situational awareness (WASA) methodological framework with a set of requirements for awareness construction can help in the development and commissioning of future WASA cyberdefense solutionsImpact Factor: 1.438Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2013)
- "Security of Industrial Sensor Network-based Remote Substations in the context of the Internet of Things",
In Ad Hoc Networks, vol. 11, Elsevier, pp. 1091–1104, 2013.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2013: 1.943 DOI
The main objective of remote substations is to provide the central system with sensitive information from critical infrastructures, such as generation, distribution or transmission power systems. Wireless sensor networks have been recently applied in this particular context due to their attractive services and inherent benefits, such as simplicity, reliability and cost savings. However, as the number of control and data acquisition systems that use the Internet infrastructure to connect to substations increases, it is necessary to consider what connectivity model the sensor infrastructure should follow: either completely isolated from the Internet or integrated with it as part of the Internet of Things paradigm. This paper therefore addresses this question by providing a thorough analysis of both security requirements and infrastructural requirements corresponding to all those TCP/IP integration strategies that can be applicable to networks with constrained computational resources.Impact Factor: 1.943Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2013)
- "Smart Control of Operational Threats in Control Substations",
In Computers & Security, vol. 38, Elsevier, pp. 14-27, OCT 2013.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2013: 1.172 DOI
Any deliberate or unsuitable operational action in control tasks of critical infrastructures, such as energy generation, transmission and distribution systems that comprise sub-domains of a Smart Grid, could have a significant impact on the digital economy: without energy, the digital economy cannot live. In addition, the vast majority of these types of critical systems are configured in isolated locations where their control depends on the ability of a few, supposedly trustworthy, human operators. However, this assumption of reliabilty is not always true. Malicious human operators (criminal insiders) might take advantage of these situations to intentionally manipulate the critical nature of the underlying infrastructure. These criminal actions could be not attending to emergency events, inadequately responding to incidents or trying to alter the normal behaviour of the system with malicious actions. For this reason, in this paper we propose a smart response mechanism that controls human operators’ operational threats at all times. Moreover, the design of this mechanism allows the system to be able to not only evaluate by itself, the situation of a particular scenario but also to take control when areas are totally unprotected and/or isolated. The response mechanism, which is based on Industrial Wireless Sensor Networks (IWSNs) for the constant monitoring of observed critical infrastructures, on reputation for controlling human operators’ actions, and on the ISA100.11a standard for alarm management, has been implemented and simulated to evaluate its feasibility for critical contexts.Impact Factor: 1.172Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2013)
- "Analysis of Requirements for Critical Control Systems",
In International Journal of Critical Infrastructure Protection (IJCIP), vol. 5, Elsevier, pp. 137–145, 2012.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2012: 0.63 DOI
The use of modern information and communications technologies in supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems used in the critical infrastructure has become an important topic of research. The modernization significantly enhances operational performance, but also introduces security issues and the associated risks. This paper formally analyzes how the introduction of new technologies can impact control systems and ultimately affect the performance of the critical infrastructure systems being controlled. Five control system requirements are identified with the goal of proposing new operational requirements that trade-off performance and security.Impact Factor: 0.63Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2012)
- "Selecting key management schemes for WSN applications",
In Computers & Security, vol. 31, no. 38, Elsevier, pp. 956–966, Nov 2012.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2012: 1.158 DOI
Key management in wireless sensor networks (WSN) is an active research topic. Due to the fact that a large number of key management schemes (KMS) have been proposed in the literature, it is not easy for a sensor network designer to know exactly which KMS best fits in a particular WSN application. In this article, we offer a comprehensive review on how the application requirements and the properties of various key management schemes influence each other. Based on this review, we show that the KMS plays a critical role in determining the security performance of a WSN network with given application requirements. We also develop a method that allows the network designers to select the most suitable KMS for a specific WSN network setting. In addition, the article also addresses the issues on the current state-of-the-art research on the KMS for homogeneous (i.e. non-hierarchical) networks to provide solutions for establishing link-layer keys in various WSN applications and scenarios.Impact Factor: 1.158Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2012)
- "Towards Privacy Protection in Smart Grid",
In Wireless Personal Communications, vol. 73, Springer, pp. 23-50, Nov 2013, 2012.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2012: 0.428 DOI
The smart grid is an electronically controlled electrical grid that connects power generation, transmission, distribution, and consumers using information communication technologies. One of the key characteristics of the smart grid is its support for bi-directional information flow between the consumer of electricity and the utility provider. This two-way interaction allows electricity to be generated in real-time based on consumers’ demands and power requests. As a result, consumer privacy becomes an important concern when collecting energy usage data with the deployment and adoption of smart grid technologies. To protect such sensitive information it is imperative that privacy protection mechanisms be used to protect the privacy of smart grid users. We present an analysis of recently proposed smart grid privacy solutions and identify their strengths and weaknesses in terms of their implementation complexity, efficiency, robustness, and simplicity.Impact Factor: 0.428Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2012)
- "Key management systems for sensor networks in the context of the Internet of Things",
In Computers & Electrical Engineering, vol. 37, Elsevier, pp. 147-159, Mar 2011.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2011: 0.837 DOI
If a wireless sensor network (WSN) is to be completely integrated into the Internet as part of the Internet of Things (IoT), it is necessary to consider various security challenges, such as the creation of a secure channel between an Internet host and a sensor node. In order to create such a channel, it is necessary to provide key management mechanisms that allow two remote devices to negotiate certain security credentials (e.g. secret keys) that will be used to protect the information flow. In this paper we will analyse not only the applicability of existing mechanisms such as public key cryptography and pre-shared keys for sensor nodes in the IoT context, but also the applicability of those link-layer oriented key management systems (KMS) whose original purpose is to provide shared keys for sensor nodes belonging to the same WSN.Impact Factor: 0.837Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2011)
- "Secure SCADA Framework for the Protection of Energy Control Systems",
In Concurrency and Computation Practice & Experience, vol. 23, no. 12, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., pp. 1414-1430, Aug 2011.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2011: 0.636 DOI
Energy distribution systems are becoming increasingly widespread in today’s society. One of the elements that is used to monitor and control these systems are the SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems. In particular, these control systems and their complexities, together with the emerging use of the Internet and wireless technologies, bring new challenges that must be carefully considered. Examples of such challenges are the particular bene¯ts of the integration of those new technologies, and also the e®ects they may have on the overall SCADA security. The main task of this paper is to provide a framework that shows how the integration of di®erent state-of-the-art technologies in an energy control system, such as Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs), Mobile Ad-Hoc Networks (MANETs), and the Internet, can bring some interesting benefits such as status management and anomaly prevention, while maintaining the security of the whole system.Impact Factor: 0.636Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2011)
- "A Security Analysis for Wireless Sensor Mesh Networks in Highly Critical Systems",
In IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part C: Applications and Reviews, vol. 40, no. 4, IEEE, pp. 419-428, July, 2010.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2010: 2.105 DOI
Nowadays, critical control systems are a fundamental component contributing to the overall performance of critical infrastructures in our society, most of which belong to the industrial sector. These complex systems include in their design different types of information and communication technology systems, such as wireless (mesh) sensor networks, to carry out control processes in real time. This fact has meant that several communication standards, such as Zigbee PRO, WirelessHART, and ISA100.11a, have been specified to ensure coexistence, reliability, and security in their communications. The main purpose of this paper has been to review these three standards and analyze their security. We have identified a set of threats and potential attacks in their routing protocols, and we consequently provide recommendations and countermeasures to help Industry protect its infrastructures.Impact Factor: 2.105Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2010)
- "A Survey of Cryptographic Primitives and Implementations for Hardware-Constrained Sensor Network Nodes",
In Mobile Networks and Applications, vol. 12, no. 4, Springer, pp. 231-244, August, 2007.
ISI JCR Impact Factor 2007: 0.586 DOI
In a wireless sensor network environment, a sensor node is extremely constrained in terms of hardware due to factors such as maximizing lifetime and minimizing physical size and overall cost. Nevertheless, these nodes must be able to run cryptographic operations based on primitives such as hash functions, symmetric encryption and public key cryptography in order to allow the creation of secure services. Our objective in this paper is to survey how the existing research-based and commercial-based sensor nodes are suitable for this purpose, analyzing how the hardware can influence the provision of the primitives and how software implementations tackles the task of implementing instances of those primitives. As a result, it will be possible to evaluate the influence of provision of security in the protocols and applications/scenarios where sensors can be used.Impact Factor: 0.586Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2007)
Note: all the publications are here.