Active Defence

A novel risk management approach to network infrastructure protection

The security of critical infrastructure that underpins modern society has always been a national priority. However, over the past few decades the security-risk exposure to critical infrastructures has escalated due to increased interconnectivity within cyber infrastructures and between cyber and physical infrastructures. As a result, intelligent adversaries seek new pathways and opportunities, and employ more sophisticated tactics.Although the responsibility to assure the long-term viability of critical infrastructure falls on government institutions, direct control is frequently delegated to private enterprise. Unfortunately, the private-business mindset of maintaining service availability at the lowest possible cost frequently competes with the need for a high-security environment that provides adequate protection from a complex and evolving threat landscape. Recent research points out that business security strategies rely on passive controls which are not suited to counter intelligent adversaries that use innovative means to exploit vulnerabilities in defensive systems.

This project develops an Active Defence system to support real-time security decision-making for network operators.

The Active Defence system consists of two modules. The first module is a network visualisation interface that provides real-time 'situation awareness' of security events to network operators. The module uses new methods of information integration and 'big data' visualisation of disparate sources of security information.

The second module is a recommendation system that advises human operators on defensive tactics to be employed while the network is under attack. The module uses risk management techniques to assess the exposure to critical infrastructure, game theory to suggest counter-moves in an ongoing attack, and machine learning to determine patterns of attacks that are anomalous and require human intervention.

Research Team


Seed Funding 2015

Cyber crime casts an evil net by Garry Barker, 3010 Magazine.

Ben Rubinstein wins Young Tall Poppy Science Award by Kate Murray, Melbourne Networked Society Institute, 18 November 2016.

Presented at the Networked Society Symposium 2016 as part of the Breaking tradition: How new  technology is transforming everything session, 11 November 2016.

Crime and privacy in open data by Dr Chris Culnane, Dr Benjamin Rubinstein and Dr Vanessa Teague, Pursuit, 28 October 2016.

Understanding the maths is crucial for protecting privacy by Dr Chris Culnane, Dr Benjamin Rubinstein and Dr Vanessa Teague, Pursuit, 29 September 2016.

Can hackers turn off the lights? by Greta Harrison, Pursuit, 18 January 2016.

The rise of the machines: fact or fiction? by Greta Harrison, Pursuit, 23 September 2016.