Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
School of Computer and Security Science
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
Professor Craig Valli
Associate Professor Andrew Woodward
Remote working is a practice that provides economic benefits to both the employing organisation and the individual. However, evidence suggests that organisations implementing remote working have limited appreciation of the security risks, particularly those impacting upon the confidentiality and integrity of information and also on the integrity and availability of the remote worker’s computing environment. Other research suggests that an organisation that does appreciate these risks may veto remote working, resulting in a loss of economic benefits. With the implementation of high speed broadband, remote working is forecast to grow and therefore it is appropriate that improved approaches to managing security risks are researched. This research explores the use of secure portable execution and storage environments (secure PESEs) to improve information security for the remote work categories of telework, and mobile and deployed working.
This thesis with publication makes an original contribution to improving remote work information security through the development of a body of knowledge (consisting of design models and design instantiations) and the assertion of a nascent design theory. The research was conducted using design science research (DSR), a paradigm where the research philosophies are grounded in design and construction.
Following an assessment of both the remote work information security issues and threats, and preparation of a set of functional requirements, a secure PESE concept was defined. The concept is represented by a set of attributes that encompass the security properties of preserving the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the computing environment and data. A computing environment that conforms to the concept is considered to be a secure PESE, the implementation of which consists of a highly portable device utilising secure storage and an up-loadable (on to a PC) secure execution environment. The secure storage and execution environment combine to address the information security risks in the remote work location.
A research gap was identified as no existing ‘secure PESE like’ device fully conformed to the concept, enabling a research problem and objectives to be defined. Novel secure storage and execution environments were developed and used to construct a secure PESE suitable for commercial remote work and a high assurance secure PESE suitable for security critical remote work. The commercial secure PESE was trialled with an existing telework team looking to improve security and the high assurance secure PESE was trialled within an organisation that had previously vetoed remote working due to the sensitivity of the data it processed.
An evaluation of the research findings found that the objectives had been satisfied. Using DSR evaluation frameworks it was determined that the body of knowledge had improved an area of study with sufficient evidence generated to assert a nascent design theory for secure PESEs.
The thesis highlights the limitations of the research while opportunities for future work are also identified. This thesis presents ten published papers coupled with additional doctoral research (that was not published) which postulates the research argument that ‘secure PESEs can be used to manage information security risks within the remote work environment’.
James, P. (2015). Secure portable execution and storage environments: A capability to improve security for remote working. https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/1707