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New cyber shield takes out Curtinnovation Awards

Media release

An innovative software shield developed by Curtin University researchers that prevents increasingly common cyber security attacks has been crowned the overall winner in the 2017 Curtinnovation Awards.

Graphic of a circuit board with a padlock.

Launching Curtin’s Research and Innovation Week 2017, the Curtinnovation Awards celebrate the University’s efforts to turn research outcomes into successful new products and services.

The defensive software, called the Probability Engine for Identifying Malicious Activity (PEMIA), works to prevent cyber-attacks similar to the recent attack on the Census website by using powerful statistical techniques to identify and filter out the malicious traffic while keeping the online service running.

Award winners were also recognised for their development of innovative new systems, processes and tools across the faculties of Science and Engineering, Health Sciences, Humanities and Curtin Business School, as well as an Innovation in Education prize.

Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Chris Moran congratulated the award winners for their commitment to solving real-world problems with innovations backed by comprehensive research.

“The overall winner of the 2017 Curtinnovation Awards is a team of experts who have applied their technical expertise to address the real and ever-growing threat of cyber security attacks, which can cause significant economic and reputational damage to organisations,” Professor Moran said.

“The other innovations recognised included developing the next generation of green refrigerants to cool everything from car interiors to food, and creating a web-based tool that can effectively read emotions.

“From inventing new systems that locate faults on powerlines almost instantly, and enable evidence-based decision-making in schools, to extracting a potential new treatment for diabetes from a popular grain, these innovations showcase the very best of what research can offer.

“The calibre of winners at this year’s Curtinnovation Awards is testament to the quality of research being conducted at Curtin University, which has a successful history of developing innovative products that deliver solutions and improvements for industry.”

Professor Moran said this year’s awards marked a particularly special occasion as the University celebrated ‘50 Years of Innovation’, recognising its combined history with the WA Institute of Technology since 1967.

During Research and Innovation Week (September 18 to 22), Curtin University will be celebrating its research excellence and achievements.

The winners from the 2017 Curtinnovation Awards include:

Overall winner

Project: Cyber Attack Shield

Team: Mr Stefan Prandl, Associate Professor Mihai Lazarescu, Dr Sonny Pham, Dr Sie Teng Soh

Description: Denial of Service Cyber Attacks, which swamp a server or website and cause it to crash, are becoming increasingly common. This innovation, the Probability Engine for Identifying Malicious Activity (PEIMA), uses powerful statistical techniques to detect and neutralise these attacks while keeping the online service running.

Science and Engineering category

Project: Power Line Fault Detection

Team: Professor Syed Islam, Ali Tashakkori Jahromi, Professor Peter Wolfs (Central Queensland University), Dean Frost (Western Power)

Description: Researchers from Curtin University have worked with partner Western Power to develop a new system capable of rapidly identifying and locating high impedance faults in powerlines. This will allow rapid response to electrical failures that could lead to bushfires, and further damage to power networks and property.

Health Sciences category

Project: Extraction of anti-diabetic from lupins

Team: Dr Ranjeet Utikar, Associate Professor Stuart Johnson, Professor Philip Newsholme, Sharmilee Mane, Mrunmai Tapadia, Professor Vishnu Pareek, Dr Rodrigo Carlessi

Description: Australian sweet lupins, which are grown in WA, have long been recognised as a food with health benefits. Chemical engineers at Curtin University have developed a new extraction process for producing high purity gamma-conglutin, a naturally occurring protein derived from lupins that has been shown to be effective in lowering blood glucose. This finding has potential as a nutraceutical or food supplement for diabetics or managing ‘pre-diabetes’.

Curtin Business School category

Project: Next generation green refrigerants

Team: CBS alumnus Greg Macham, Associate Professor Ahmed Barifcani, Professor Moses Tade, Rakpong Peampermpool

Description: Carbon dioxide has many advantages as a refrigerant – it is cheap, non-flammable and has low environmental impact, but has limited application because it cannot chill to low enough temperatures. Greg Macham, an entrepreneur and Curtin MBA graduate, is working with a research team from Curtin’s School of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering to commercialise a gas agent that can be added to carbon dioxide to improve its effective temperature range, offering a safer, greener and more cost-efficient refrigerant gas, which provides a potential alternative for commercial cooling systems and the massive natural gas sector.

Humanities category

Project: UX-Machine to analyse human emotions

Team: Associate Professor Artur Lugmayr

Description: The UX-Machine is an online platform that can assist marketing and product design professionals to understand the emotions felt by their customer. The technology can use biofeedback data, including changes in heart rate, muscle tension and skin movement, produced by an almost limitless array of sensors.

Innovation in Education category

Project: National Schools Improvement Program

Team: Dr Jill Aldridge, Kate Ala’i, Ben Aldridge

Description: The National Schools Improvement Program has been developed based on many years of research in improving the performance of primary and secondary schools in Australia, at the classroom and whole-school level. A practical, evidence-based program of measurement tools and processes, made-up of a series of online surveys, offer an easier way for school leaders and teachers to introduce cultural change that allows each student to achieve their best.