Securing the cyber world

Arslan Munir’s research keeps cyber systems safe

Nearly everything we do in life — work, transportation, shopping, banking, entertainment — has a computerized element. Figuring out how to keep computer networks and systems safe — cyber security — is what drives Arslan Munir. Munir is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at Kansas State University and also an ancillary faculty in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He holds a Michelle Munson-Serban Simu Keystone Research Faculty Scholarship from the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering.

Munir’s research areas touch nearly every aspect of society. “I have four application areas where I target my research,” he said. “They are cyber-physical and cyber-transportation systems, autonomous vehicles, Internet of Things, and military defense applications. Security is of paramount significance for modern computer systems because of the susceptibility of these systems to electronic failures and security and privacy attacks. The end goal is to design secure and trustworthy cognitive computing systems that are resilient to accidental failures and malicious attacks.”

As a founding director of the Intelligent Systems, Computer Architecture, Analytics and Security (ISCAAS) Laboratory at K-State, Munir leads a team of graduate student researchers working on various aspects of cybersecurity. One area is autonomous vehicles. Their work helps make sure that as self-driving cars are developed and become more common, they are safe and secure from cyberattacks.

“The next generation of automobiles, also known as cybercars, will increasingly incorporate electronic control units in novel automotive control applications,” Munir wrote in a research paper. “Recent work has demonstrated the vulnerability of modern car control systems to security attacks that directly impacts the cybercar’s physical safety and dependability.”

Munir has received grants for his work from the National Science Foundation, Semiconductor Research Corporation, Air Force, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He also receives support from K-State alumna Michelle Munson and her husband, Serban Simu, through the Keystone Research Faculty Scholarship they created.

“I feel very privileged to get this support, which has helped me acquire the resources and equipment necessary for my research,” Munir said. “This gift has also helped cover some of my travel expenses to present my research, highlighting the work being done at K-State. So I really thank Michelle Munson and Serban Simu for providing this generous gift.”

Support for faculty has been key to the college’s ability to recruit and retain outstanding faculty like Munir.

Dr. Munir’s design of safe and secure autonomous vehicles.

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Jenna Brown Senior Director of Development - Engineering