Securing our online future

8 November 2018

A Croucher Fellow is recognised for his leading research on internet security and privacy protection for blockchain technology – even in the advent of quantum computers.

Internet security specialist Dr Joseph Liu (Croucher Fellowship 2005) of Monash University, has been named Australian Computer Society (ACS) ICT Researcher of the Year in recognition of his contribution to the cybersecurity and blockchain sector.

Liu, who received his doctoral degree from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, is renowned for his research into applied cryptography and the hot topic of blockchain, which enables the digital peer-to-peer exchange and storage of assets without the need for intermediaries such as banks and governments.

The award was announced at the 2018 ACS Digital Disruptor Awards in November, recognising the role of Liu’s blockchain research advances in demonstrating how the technology could foster new economic and social systems. “I am honoured to receive the ICT Researcher of the Year Award,” Liu said.

Back in 2004, Liu’s PhD thesis focused on how to secure the anonymity of trading transactions online using his newly devised linkable ring signature scheme. The cryptographic algorithm mixes the spender’s input with a group of others, making it much more difficult to establish a link between each subsequent transaction. Upon receiving the Croucher Fellowship in 2005, he focused on the application of linkable ring signature in e-voting, e-cash and attestation. 

Later, the algorithm’s enhancement of anonymity was picked up by blockchain cryptocurrency Monero, helping to give the currency a competitive edge on privacy. Monero is now one of the world’s top 10 cryptocurrencies, with market capitalisation of about US$1 billion in November 2018.

In 2017, Liu was made director of Monash’s Blockchain Lab, a joint venture with Hong Kong Polytechnic University and asset management firm Collinstar Capital to develop Hcash. The new cryptocurrency system comprises three components: a dual-chain, dual-token network or ecosystem (Hypercash); a decentralised and open-source cross-platform cryptocurrency (Hcash); and a cross-chain transactional exchange featuring an array of smart contracts (Hyperexchange).

The researchers are also seeking to provide greater protection not only against present-day computers but quantum computers in the future. They moved forward on this in 2018 with the launch of their lattice-based one-time linkable ring signature algorithm, providing post-quantum security and privacy for large transactions and data transfers.

Monash’s Dean of the Faculty of Information Technology Professor Jon Whittle said Liu’s work continuously pushed forward the frontiers of blockchain research. In doing so, Liu was bringing “the world one step closer to fully realising it as a powerful innovation that is poised to bring substantial change to financial services as well as many other industries”, Whittle noted.

Dr Joseph Liu is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Information Technology, Monash University, Australia. He received his PhD in information engineering from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2004, specialising in cyber security, applied cryptography and blockchain. He has published more than 150 refereed journal and conference papers and received Best Paper Awards at the European Symposium on Research in Computer Security (ESORICS) in 2014 and 2015. He was programme chair of the International Conference on Provable Security (ProvSec) in 2007 and 2014, Australasian Conference on Information Security and Privacy (ACISP) 2016, and has served on the programme committee of more than 35 international conferences.

To view Dr Liu’s Croucher profile, please click here.