Secure communications

With the emergence of the internet of things and ultra-high speed mobile and wireless connectivity on the horizon, future communication systems need to incorporate novel protection mechanisms to ensure security, reliability and adequate fault tolerance.


We draw on expertise in mobile communications through our links with Surrey’s 5G/6G Innovation Centre – the largest academic research centre in this area – to build secure communication systems in sectors such as connected vehicles and digital healthcare.


PETRAS IoT Research Hub

The internet of things has widespread implications in terms of privacy, ethics, trust, reliability, acceptability and security. Surrey is collaborating with eight other leading UK universities to explore these critical issues in the PETRAS IoT Research Hub, which is funded by EPSRC and partner contributions. Projects within this hub include Lightweight Security and Privacy for Geographic Personal Data and Location Based Services (GEOSEC) and Blockchains for IoT in Intelligent Transportation Systems (B-IoT).

  • Budget: £9.8 million from EPSRC, around £13m in partner contributions
  • Funding body: EPSRC & industrial partners
  • Centre lead: Dr Haitham Cruickshank
  • Partners: UCL (project lead), Imperial College London, Lancaster University, University of Oxford, University of Warwick, Cardiff University, University of Edinburgh, University of Southampton
  • Timeframe: February 2019 – September 2019 with a follow on project called PETRAS NCE started in July 2019 for a period of 4 years.

SPEAR (Secure and PrivatE smArt gRid)

Bringing together a consortium of six European universities, two European research centres and eight industry partners, the SPEAR project is focused on the protection of smart grid infrastructures from cyber attacks.

Major electricity companies including Public Power Corporation (Greece’s main electricity provider) and Schneider Electric France SAS, are providing their infrastructure for the assessment of the tools being developed by us and the SPEAR consortium.

Real-time monitoring and big data analytics will be used to pick up any unusual activity, with the overall aim of improving the resilience of smart grid and increasing trust in electricity providers. We will also be developing the SPEAR blockchain to maintain intrusion detection logs facilitating timely attack prevention.

SAFRON (Safe Operational Radio Network for mixed-priority communications to trains using a shared architecture)

The SAFRON project aims to create a prototype to demonstrate how wireless networks (WIFI, LTE and 5G) can be used to train the trackside communications for mixed applications including those which are safety related and mission critical.

We are collaborating with Surrey’s 5G/6G Innovation Centre to oversee the security analysis and design of the communication between the train systems and the rail route control centre, using secure tunnelling techniques.

GEOSEC (Lightweight Security and Privacy for Geographic Personal Data and Location Based Services)

GEOSEC (a PETRAS IoT Research Hub project) aims to analyse and model the security and privacy weaknesses of existing techniques for location-based information delivery services, and design a new lightweight solution with low networking overheads. The initial focus for researchers was on well-known use cases such as Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and Intelligent Transportation Systems, smart ambient public space, and internet of things enabled smart road and street planning, pricing and maintenance.

Some of the project outcomes were published in IEEE journals such as:

  1. Security and Privacy in Location-Based Services (LBS) for Vehicular and Mobile Communications: An Overview, Challenges and Countermeasures. Published in the IEEE Internet of Things Journal.
  2. Paper title: A Distributed Trust Management Scheme for Data Forwarding in Satellite DTN Emergency Communications.  Published in IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications (JSAC), Special Issue on Satellite Communications.
  • Budget: £370,000
  • Funding body: Ordnance Survey
  • Centre lead: Dr Haitham Cruickshank
  • Partners: Ordnance Survey
  • Timeframe: October 2016 - March 2020.