Combating cyber attacks through IST research

January 05, 2011

The Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) works to coordinate Cyber Situational Awareness and the development of new programs to combat cyber attacks.

Professor Peng Liu and colleagues have been working, through the LIONS Center, to study cyber awareness and solve the problems caused by cyber attacks. The impacts of cyber attacks range from malware to data corruption and depending on the severity are combated in different ways.

“Now you know what has happened and how serious it is and now you want to know, ‘Okay, how can I handle it?’” Liu said.

Some defense mechanisms include unplugging the server or just patching it. Liu said that it is important to strategize and think about where the adversaries might make moves, similar to a game of chess.

Little research was done on this topic prior to the MURI project and most of it focused on either sensory awareness for hardware and software or analysts’ decisions. Between the two topics, there is information that could be valuable to this field of study.

“In the middle you can see it’s really quite like a desert; not much research is done,” Liu said.

He emphasized the importance of tapping into the potential to develop new software tools or protocols of routine in order to find a solution for cyber situational awareness. Information fusion, data knowledge processing, and decision-making all occur between sensory awareness and analysis.

Liu’s work with the project is two-fold. He is working to increase personal awareness as well as develop technology based on the way humans make decisions, analyze data, and make sense of large volumes of intelligence.

“This project involves humans and technology so by nature it is interdisciplinary,” Liu said.

While the project also involves four other universities, Liu is thankful for his team at IST. “You cannot easily get a team that can handle all the important needs,” he said.

IST is an interdisciplinary college and each team member in the LIONS Center has a different specialty. According to Liu, forming a team was easy as each member’s skills and focus compliment with another member’s skills and focus. The team forms a cohesive unit and makes success easier and more convenient, he said.

Liu said IST also can provide a lot of support through its vast array of research resources and grants from the research administration office. The office assists with grant proposal paperwork and securing funds for projects such as MURI among others.

The college reaps many benefits from this project, said Liu. Not only does it provide opportunity for graduate and undergraduate research but it also brings in grant money for such projects. It promotes connections between disciplines within the college, further uniting research partnerships, he said.

“Once this kind of intellectual integration can be done, it could win more grants because this integration itself has value,” Liu said.

The MURI project is an ongoing project that continues to be supported by and support IST and its faculty, staff and students.

Last Updated June 16, 2011