Person of the Day: Assistant Professor Antonis Michalas

Hi there!

My name is Antonis Michalas and I just started working at Tampere University of Technology (TUT) as an Assistant Professor in the field of Cyber Security. I would like to briefly introduce myself and the work I have been doing during the last few years. You can always find more information on my profile on my personal webpage.

Having acquired my undergraduate degree in Mathematics at the University of Crete, I later completed my postgraduate studies at the Athens Information Technology in the field of Information Technology and Telecommunications, where I was awarded a Master of Science. Following, I started my PhD in Aalborg University, Denmark in the field of Network Security with a focus on Privacy, Trust and Secure e-Voting in distributed environments. Later, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Security Lab of the Swedish Institute of Computer Science (SICS) in Stockholm, Sweden, where I was actively involved in national and European research projects and combined research with student supervision and project management. After my PostDoc and up until now, I was an assistant professor at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Westminster in London, UK. As an assistant professor, I was teaching both undergraduate and postgraduate courses related to cryptography, forensics, cyber security and network security. My role expanded to student supervision and research group coordination. In parallel, I was an active member of the department’s project development and research activities. In addition to that, I was leading the cyber security research group at the University of Westminster. As the head of the cyber security research group, I lead research projects focused on network security and cryptography. As a group, we mainly focused on applied research in security and privacy of widely deployed communication networks.

Continuing in this streak of great places to work, I welcome the challenge of working at TUT in order to further develop the University and meet its strategic objectives. Towards the realization of this strategy, I would like to share the following thoughts with you and also highlight the skills that I feel I can bring to the role.

Research Excellence: Current research activities and areas of interest

As a researcher, I have a strong background in diverse fields including combinatorial optimization, design and analysis of heuristics/probabilistic algorithms for difficult to solve problems, cloud computing and decentralized networks, computer and network security and privacy (especially as the latter is rather difficult to achieve in real life…). Throughout my career, I have developed security and privacy-preserving architectures for different types of systems and networks.

Security & Privacy in Reputation and e-Voting Schemes

Most notably, I have introduced a new set of vulnerabilities in decentralized reputation and e-Voting schemes. More precisely, I extensively analyzed existing additive reputation systems that preserve the privacy of individual votes. To this end, I presented a list of attacks that can be applied to all the existing additive reputation systems. This comprehensive list of protocol flaws, demonstrated the inefficiencies of existing systems and provided essential knowledge to protocol designers. By answering questions of the form “Did you know that sort of attack?” they can avoid common pitfalls and design even better feedback systems.

As a continuation of this work, I used this analysis to guide me in the design and development of a secure protocol that preserves the privacy of votes in decentralized reputation systems. The protocol allows n participants to securely cast their ratings in a way that preserves the privacy of individual votes against both internal and external attacks. More precisely, I analyzed the protocol and proved that it is resistant to collusion even against up to n-1 corrupted insiders. The insights I obtained from this analysis allowed me to refine the protocol and come up with a lighter version that is equally secure and uses only standard cryptographic mechanisms. This lighter protocol compares favourably with protocols for secure multi-party sum computation and it is considered as another important contribution of this work.

In addition to that, an important part of my research is not only to prove the correctness of my work by providing a theoretical analysis but also to demonstrate its effectiveness by conducting extensive experiments results. In order to achieve this, I measured the communication delay and processing overhead of the proposed protocols in a real P2P network, showing its superior performance over the previous best protocol at that date.

Security in Cloud Computing – Trusted Computing – Secure Storage

During the last years, I have been working on problems related to security, trust and privacy in cloud computing. My main focus is on two problems: (i) How to ensure that a cloud provider is trusted – meaning that no malicious code is running, and (ii) How to securely store data on the cloud.

To this end, I designed and developed a framework for data and operation security in Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) clouds, which consists of protocols for a trusted launch of virtual machines in infrastructure clouds and domain-based storage protection. The developed framework consists of protocols that allow users to establish trust by remotely attesting host platform configuration prior to launching guest virtual machines and to ensure confidentiality of data stored in remote storage.

As a continuation of my work on the secure cloud storage, I have recently started working on providing solutions based on Searchable Encryption (SE) schemes. SE is a promising encryption technique that allows users to store data remotely in an encrypted form and search over the encrypted data without having to decrypt them first.

Other Research Interests

Finally, another important aspect of my research is related to privacy in the e-Health sector.

Healthcare has been slow to adopt IT, especially when compared to other sectors like banking where customer information is also sacred. Lately I have also started looking into problems in the field of Digital Forensics with a focus on Memory Forensics.

Teaching Experience & Student Supervision

During my undergraduate and postgraduate years, I was fortunate enough to study with some great professors who, apart from transferring brilliant academic knowledge, showed me what it means to be a good instructor, set high expectations for all students, be prepared and organized, engage and challenge students and most importantly show interest in them as persons. Mentoring students and contributing to their intellectual growth, for me, is a very rewarding task.

Until now I have gained some valuable experience by teaching both undergraduate and postgraduate courses related to cryptography, forensics, cyber security, network security and algorithms. In general, I find it very rewarding to interact with students since some of them will become the researchers of tomorrow and our future colleagues. In this sense, besides teaching, I am always keen on supervising strong students in BSc projects, MSc theses, or PhD research on security and privacy-related topics (e.g., security and privacy in cloud computing, mobile sensing systems, smart-phone security, identity and credential management, location privacy, or more general network security).

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