GUARD: A cyber-security project to increase the reliability and trust for digital service chains

The project GUARD develops a cyber-security framework to increase the resilience and protection of digital services, which form the backbone of modern ICT-environments, such as smart cities or hospitals. This goal is achieved by integrating open interfaces to collect information from the components as part of a digital service chain, by retrieving contextual information on the related organisations, or by managing the propagation of user data. The project integrates threat detection and identification mechanisms to increase the accuracy of information and is providing a user-centric data visualisation to improve awareness- and reaction capabilities.

An ever-increasing trend for modern business service chains is to take advantage of connected IT services, which integrate and process the data of various organisations involved in the production and sales of the core product or service, the underlying logistics and operations, and typically also include an interface for the end customer. Examples of such ecosystems can be found in the context of smart cities, the energy sector, digital marketplaces, the healthcare sector or among citizen services. However, the increasing complexity of modern digital service chains also leads to an increased vulnerability against cyber-attacks, as the possible attack surface increases, where a single vulnerable or compromised link can jeopardise the confidentiality, integrity and accessibility of data of the entire service chain. Especially start-ups and small- and medium enterprises do not necessarily have the capabilities to operate a full-fledged, enterprise-grade IT security management, which can impose a significant entry barrier to take advantage of these commercialisation models.

The project GUARD seeks to address this topic by developing an open, extensible and accessible platform which provides the means of monitoring and protection of the data involved in the service chain across different administrative domains and heterogeneous infrastructures. The main goal of the project GUARD is to progress beyond the state of the art in the cybersecurity domain, where security and privacy will become an integral part of new systems and services in a cost-effective manner.

The core component of GUARD is an interoperable cybersecurity framework which ties into existing digital business chains by integrating complementary technologies to monitor, detect and visualize threats and vulnerabilities. This framework is supported by algorithms for trust verification and assessment to ensure the compliance of business chains related to specific user policies. Complementary technologies support in the monitoring and inspection of network traffic, application logs or system calls. Furthermore, the integration of detection algorithms enhanced with machine learning and artificial intelligence mechanisms will open new opportunities to identify and correlate complex and unknown relationships among large data sets. As a result, new efficient inspection and measurement tools will make it possible to have new automatic detection methods of both known and unknown threats and attacks. In the context of human implications, GUARD will increase the situational awareness by better propagation of knowledge to the humans in the loop, by developing user tools for visualisation, notification, configuration, investigation and mitigation.

All these aspects will open up new business opportunities for a successful exploitation, by bringing GUARD components close to the market in terms of their practical relevance across public or commercial service sectors, by building on the main contributing factors:

  • An enhanced protection against novel advanced threats
  • The integration of advanced technologies and services to manage complex cyber-attacks and to reduce the impact of breaches
  • The contribution to the development of the CSIRT network across the EU by gathering, sharing and consuming threat intelligence
  • The flexibility to support major trends in the evolution of technologies utilised in future ICT infrastructures and service chains

The project GUARD is funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme under agreement number 833456.

Members of the consortium

The GUARD consortium brings together 15 experienced partner organisations across 8 EU member states. The project is coordinated by Maggioli S.p.A. (Italy) and the contributing partners include Italtel S.p.A. (Italy), CNIT (Italy), the FIWARE Foundation e.V. (Germany), Wobcom GmbH (Germany), MINDS & SPARKS GmbH (Austria), Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH (Austria), Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas (Greece), Eight Bells (Cyprus), Research and Academic Computer Network NASK (Poland), MC2 Innovations (Poland), Law and Internet Foundation (Bulgaria), J.I.G. Internet Consulting S.L. (Spain), University of Rome “Tor Vergata” Hospital (Italy) and Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (Italy).

The project has a duration of 36 months. MINDS & SPARKS GmbH is responsible for the development of the GUARD Dashboard as central user interface for the GUARD framework.

Cyber security, IT security, information security, digital service chains, data privacy and protection, IoT, data visualisation, data dashboard, threat detection, cyber threat intelligence, system integration.