March 2021

May 11th, 2021





Marthie Grobler, Raj Gaire and Surya Nepal, “User, Usage and Usability: Redefining Human Centric Cyber Security”, Frontiers in Big Data – Cybersecurity and Privacy, volume 4, 2021 (doi:; (published); (This article talks about the importance of human factors in cybersecurity and how this could be achieved).


Andrew Feutrill, David Smith, Elliot Vercoe, Frederik Geth, Jonathan Chan and Ming Ding on the Privacy Preserving Tech. Energy Pilot project have released a Julia package which implements differential privacy on power transmission networks It is an extension package to PowerModels.jl which runs power system optimisation models. This research helps with protecting the data of critical energy infrastructure, to prevent the ability of malicious attackers to compromise transmission networks within Australia.

Staff news

Welcome to Yanjun Zhang who has joined DSS as a research fellow. Her research interests include privacy-preserving computing, federated learning and data mining.

Garrison Gao left the group to become an associate professor at Nanjing University of Science and Technology. For more information about his latest research:


Spotlight on Women in Tech in the Algorithm

  • Meet Dr Marthie Grobler, leader of the Human Centric Team

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at CSIRO’s Data61: I have been with CSIRO’s Data61 since 2017 and lead the Human Centric Security team in Software and Computational Systems. Our small team is based in Melbourne, and focuses on the intersection between cyber security and human behaviour, a very interesting and evolving field. I also just completed a 12-month learning and development role as Deputy Director for Software and Computational Systems.’

If you were a superhero, what would be your superpower and why? ‘How I wish to be able to read other people’s minds! It would make client (and kid) negotiations and team meetings so much easier.’

If you were down to your last $10, how would you spend it? ‘I would probably buy hand sanitiser or cheese.’

  • Meet Dr Mehwish Nasim, a computational social scientist and researcher within the Software and Computational program at CSIRO’s Data61.

What led you to choose a career in tech? ‘In one sentence, I am here because of my progressive parents.’

What advice would you give to women and girls wanting to pursue a career in tech?  ‘It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. The reason why we survived a career in STEM is because the women before us paved a way for us, and I promise that we are working towards making it a better place for those who are going to enter STEM after us. ‘

  • Meet Dr Kristen Moore

I decided to study math and science in undergrad simply because that’s what I enjoyed most in school. It wasn’t until honours that I found a particular topic that I felt truly passionate about, and it was at that point that I decided to do a PhD and pursue a career in STEM.’

Can you tell us about your personal experience as a woman in stem? ‘On some levels I feel like there is no distinction between gender in research — people from all gender identities are equally driven by their passion. I have never felt discriminated against as a woman, and have been very lucky to work in some genuinely positive work environments.
On the other hand, looking back there are ways in which I have struggled.  I felt isolated by the lack of women role models during my PhD, which I completed at a research institute whose permanent research staff were exclusively male at the time. That, combined with the years of job instability and the frequent need to move cities/countries for postdoc positions, made pursuing a research career quite difficult. More recently though, I have been faced with the greatest challenge so far – that of a dual-career couple with family responsibilities.

What is your advice to early career stem girls? ‘Mentors are so important. Early career is a hard period, but it’s a lot easier when you have people around you who believe in you and will help you navigate through challenges that may arise due to being in an underrepresented population in STEM.’ 

For International Women’s Rights Day let’s celebrate the women in our Group

Achievements/ Good news

Meisam Mohammady’s Ph.D. dissertation entitled “Novel Approaches to Preserving Utility in Privacy Enhancing Technologies” was selected in the category of the Natural Science and Engineering as the winner for the Concordia University (Canada) Distinguished Doctoral Dissertation Prize. The dissertation was also selected as the university nominee for both of Quebec-wide dissertation competitions (CAGS and ADESAQ). Announcements for the winners of these competitions will be made in the near future.


  • Gnanakumar Thedchanamoorthy CRC PhD student from School of Computing & Mathematics at Charles Sturt University started his study in Marsfield.
  • Dennis Liu (ex D2D PhD), Xu Yang, Sami Alkhatib and Sunil Samant submitted their theses.
  • Hetong Jiang of UQ was awarded a R+ Top-up Scholarship. His Ph.D. is in the area of Secure, Accountable and Provenance-Centric File Systems and his Data61 supervisor is Mohan Baruwal Chhetri

Let’s meet some of our students:

  • Sami Alkhatib

‘My name is Sami Alkhatib. I am a PhD student in the Interaction Design Lab – School of Computing and Information Systems at the University of Melbourne. I am expecting to finish my PhD degree requirements at the end of February 2021. My thesis is titled “Privacy in Aged Care Monitoring Devices: An Investigation into Stakeholders’ Perspectives” and is supervised by Dr. Marthie Grobler and Dr Shuo Wang from CSIRO’s Data61 in addition to my supervisors from the University of Melbourne. My research conducted qualitative research to explore different stakeholders’ (developers, older adults, caregivers) privacy views in the use and development of aged care monitoring devices. The aim of the research was to provide recommendations to the development community and aged care industry on how to improve privacy in the use and development of aged care monitoring devices.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with CSIRO’s Data61. Receiving a scholarship from CSIRO gave me the chance to focus on my research instead of working and studying to support my family. It also gave me the opportunity to deal with experienced supervisors and professionals within an organisation driven by honest values, an amazing culture, that helps unleash the potential of its researchers. During my period with CSIRO’s Data61, I have published a total of four studies and have one paper under review. As my journey with CSIRO’s Data61 is about to end as a student in the near future, I hope I will have the opportunity to cooperate with researchers from CSIRO in the future, particularly in the field of privacy and cybersecurity.’

  • Sunil Samant

‘The current data-driven decision-making era heavily relies on a large-scale online/IoT streaming data from various data sources such as IoT, autonomous vehicles, intelligent devices, and more.  Such data typically comes with fluctuating rates, thus imposing dynamic resource requirements to process the data. Cost-effective and QoS assured resource management for services used in a data processing pipeline (DPP) on the cloud is non-trivial due to heterogeneous cloud services available under heterogeneous pricing and the heterogeneous services used to build the data processing pipeline. From the cloud consumer perspective, I focused on cost-effective end-to-end QoS assured adaptive management of resources for cloud-hosted DPP services based on the forecast workload. The resource management solution leverages the cloud resource and contract heterogeneity to minimize the cost of cloud resources. It formulates the resource allocation problem as a combinatorial optimization problem to obtain the cost-optimal end-to-end QoS assured resource allocation for data pipeline services on the cloud. A novel end-to-end adaptive resource management framework is proposed, and a PoC is developed ( ) to validate the resource management solution on a real-world cloud. In achieving the cost-effective QoS assured resource allocation solution, I proposed a simple yet reliable approach to built reproducible sustainable QoS profiles for DPP services hosted on the cloud infrastructure.

I am grateful to my Data61 supervisors Dr Mohan Baruwal Chhetri and Dr Surya Nepal, for constant support and guidance throughout my PhD journey.  During my time with DSS, I had the opportunity to work at the Marsfield site for few months under Surya’s supervision and to spend time at the Dockland site. Participating in regular group and site meetings helped improve my communication skills, thanks Dr Marthie Grobler for organising those.’

  • Xu Yang

‘Xu Yang developed several novel mutual authentication schemes for the Internet of Things (IoT) and its applications. The research focused on how to provide and ensure secure, anonymous and efficient communications between different IoT devices and servers.  These findings enhance our understanding of modern communications technology.

The Internet of Things (IoT) nowadays has been adopted in various domains, including government, commerce, education and healthcare. Many IoT-based applications, including intelligent transportation, smart healthcare and smart home, have attracted significant attention recently and facilitated people’s day-to-day life making the living environment smarter. Millions and even billions of devices will be connected in IoT system. These devices have smart capabilities to collect, analyze and even make decisions without any human interaction. One of the challenging tasks is to guarantee the authenticity of the devices so that users can rely on the decision making process with a very high confidence. In addition, IoT also faces other challenges in the large scale deployment, including the security issue of IoT system, the privacy issue of devices or users, the capability issue of resource-constrained devices, and the incorporation issue of heterogeneous applications.

Considering these challenges, this research focuses on how to provide and ensure secure lightweight authentication with privacy protection in IoT and its applications. In this thesis, we firstly propose several new secure and lightweight mutual authentication schemes for different IoT applications, including RFID, VANET and WBAN application systems, to enhance the security, privacy and efficiency. By analyzing different requirements in these application systems, the proposed schemes ensure that the devices can mutually authenticate and establish a session with the other devices or servers via cryptographic operations. Moreover, in order to provide transparent and seamless incorporation for heterogeneous different applications, we present a new blockchain based secure and lightweight authentication for IoT. The new scheme removes the trusted third party to alleviate the key management issue and achieves flexible revocation while also guaranteeing the security, privacy and efficiency. We also give the corresponding security analysis and experimental evaluation which demonstrate both security and practicality of our schemes, respectively.’


  • The Human Centric AI Seminars Series

The Human Centric Security team are running a new monthly series “The Human Centric AI Seminars” that will focus on various research topics in human centered AI.
For more info contact: Kristen Moore and Tina Wu
Free access to anyone interested in Humans and AI

Next seminar:

Apr 14, 2021 13.00 – 13.50

Speaker: Tim Miller

Title: Explainable artificial intelligence: beware the inmates running the asylum (or How I learnt to stop worrying and love the social and behavioural sciences)

For more information or if you have missed the previous ones:

  • Join us for our monthly SAO seminars in collaboration with the Cyber Security CRC.

For more information or to view past events: