Project summary

This project aims to establish an extensible testbed to facilitate UQ’s interdisciplinary research capability in cyber security for the agricultural sector, with existing partner, Bondi Labs. We will build a high-fidelity Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) testbed as a digital twin of a real-world production environment and conduct innovative pilot studies, such as in security analytics and trusted food processing, leading to at least two high-quality publications and demonstrating our capability for larger external grant applications in 1-1.5 years.  

Outcomes will support UQ’s growing strong response to Australia’s Science and Research Priorities and Modern Manufacturing Strategy.  

Project description

Australia is on a digital transformation journey in its agriculture sector ($150 billion annual revenue, 12% share of GDP). The industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which encompasses a set of advanced equipment, network infrastructure, and smart software, has been increasingly adopted to automate production, evidence food quality and detect food safety issues. This initiative is crucial to keep Australia’s competitiveness in global markets, by significantly reducing problems such as mislabelling on export boxes and avoiding extreme incidents like the infamous strawberry needles contamination.  

This project aims to develop interdisciplinary research capability and increase UQ’s impact in cyber security for digital agriculture.  The interdisciplinary team including industrial partners and UQ researchers with key expertise of cyber security, agriculture, and food processing, will set out to establish an IIoT testbed and conduct innovative pilot studies, through the following work packages (WPs).  

WP1: A high-fidelity IIoT testbed - ITEE [Bai, Ko, RA1], CNFS [Hoffman], Bondi [Hall] 
WP1 will build a high-fidelity IIoT testbed that serves as the digital twin of real-world production environment. Expertise of Bondi Labs will greatly contribute to this WP. Bondi Labs has rich experience in the Australian food processing industry, ensuring the industrial authenticity of our testbed.  
CIs’ Groundwork. The testbed will be deployed in UQ Cyber’s new Device Testlab, without any other space needed from UQ. CI Bai and Ko are currently collaborating with Bondi Labs in a one-year Innovation Connections (IC) grant, with a specific topic of trusted video. The proposed project will thus focus on a more general cyber security solution.  

WP2: Security verification of smart agriculture IIoT – ITEE [Bai, RA2, Capstone Student 1], Bondi [Hall] 
To realize an IIoT system, it is essential that multiple subsystems are integrated. The involvement of a wide assortment of heterogenous technologies and devices may lead to mis-integration, causing security loopholes. This WP will address this problem by identifying security weaknesses from IIoT implementation and formally verifying the communication/controlling protocols.  
CIs’ Groundwork. CI Bai and Ko have conducted relevant research in tradition IoT and industrial control systems. Bai has proposed a security analytics framework for smart home IoT, published at TSE20 (CORE A*). Bai and Ko also jointly designed an analytics framework for ICS, published at TrustCom20 (CORE A). WP2 will take them as the foundation, and focuses on the verification and security analytics against the IIoT-specific threat model. 

WP3: A secure analytics framework of smart agriculture IIoT – ITEE [Ko, Zhang, RA3, Capstone Student 2], Bondi [Hall] 
Considering massive data will be generated in smart agriculture, this WP targets the secure sharing and privacy-preserving processing of data with different sensitivity classifications across stakeholders. It studies the key properties of data integrity, provenance and privacy. 

CIs’ Groundwork. CI Ko, Bai and Zhang have a series of studies on privacy preservation techniques for machine learning and data analytics, published at the prestigious ESORICS twice. They also collaborate on trusted videos with Bondi Labs. Based on this, WP3 will focus on the new challenges in IIoT, including the stream data analytics. 


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Partner organization(s)

Bondi Labs logo

Project members

Lead investigator:

Associate Professor Guangdong Bai

Associate Professor Software Engineering
School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Other investigator(s):

Professor Ryan Ko

Chair & Director - Cyber Security
School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Professor Louw Hoffman

Professor of Meat Science
Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences