Dr Khaled Khan and Dr Armstrong Nhlabatsi from the College of Engineering at Qatar University (QU) have recently obtained a US Patent (No. 10,713,355) for their invention of adaptive security.
This research project was funded by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF). The research team led by Dr Khan, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at QU in collaboration with The Open University (UK) invented a method for enabling security designers of the cloud application to make security mechanisms dynamic as well as adaptive. The invention incorporates contextual attributes, which are considered in addition to rules when making an access control decision by the system.
Dr Khan pointed out that access rights to information on computer-based systems may depend on contextual factors, such as who is accessing the data, from where, and under which threat conditions. There is a need for the dynamism of access control mechanisms taking into account contextual factors that arise at runtime.
He has also added that security threats in cloud environments are dynamic -requiring access control mechanisms to respond to the changing nature of the threats. Current access control mechanisms in the cloud use static rules expressed as security policies. Existing solutions focus on pre-designed access control measures at design time, hence not able to handle unknown threats that may arise at runtime. The existing access control mechanisms do not consider runtime context -making security none-adaptive.
This project has exactly tackled this dynamic issue of security in the cloud. In terms of practicality of the proposed approach, mobile app developers as well as cloud service providers can incorporate this invented technology in their access control mechanisms. The team has also implemented a prototype to demonstrate the feasibility of the solution. Dr Khan concluded that the adaptive nature of this invention by the QU-OU joint team is a turning point in the field of cybersecurity.