In 2019, Dr Basel Halak, director of the MSc Embedded Systems degree course at the University of Southampton, was awarded an Industrial Fellowship. These Academy fellowships strengthen links between universities and industry as well as encouraging new collaborative partnerships.
As a senior lecturer in electronics engineering, Dr Basel Halak has an international reputation for creating and delivering courses on securing embedded systems. His students learn about computer systems that are inserted into devices that control the physical operations of machines.
With the growth of the internet of things, such embedded systems have become targets for hackers. Smart devices can be taken over and controlled. Dr Halak is working on developing secure and reliable electronic systems by improving robustness against attacks.
His research focuses on building hardware functions that cannot be cloned, as well as improving hardware monitoring schemes. By enabling reliable tracking of electronic systems this will help mitigate hardware attacks.
As part of his Industrial Fellowship, Dr Halak is working with security experts at Arm Holdings to build detailed threat models of the integrated circuits supply chain. This involves designing unforgeable Root of Trust hardware that can be embedded in computing devices to enable tracking and life-time monitoring.
Hacking and counterfeiting costs the UK economy billions of pounds a year. Security breakthroughs will help protect applications found in a huge range of products including mobile phones, household appliances, industrial monitoring and control systems.