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Florida Tech Heading Effort to Protect Computer Networks from Cyber Attackers

By University Alliance on March 05, 2013

Melbourne, FL – Florida Institute of Technology is spearheading a national security project aimed at protecting computer network systems from cyber attacks.

Working with the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, Florida Tech researchers will design a command-and-control framework for Moving Target Defense (MTD). The U.S. Department of Defense is providing $1.9 million in funding for the three-year project.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, information technology systems historically have been designed with static configurations, which make them simpler to manage but also render them more vulnerable to hackers. With an MTD-focused design, however, computer networks can alter their configurations over time, which can “increase uncertainty and apparent complexity for attackers, reduce their window of opportunity and increase the costs of their probing and attack efforts.”

Heading the research team is Marco Carvalho, an associate professor of computer sciences in Florida Tech’s College of Engineering and director of the school’s Intelligent Communication and Information Systems (ICIS) Laboratory. Carvalho’s previous research includes work relating to electronic warfare, aircraft cockpit displays and tactical communication systems.

Among the challenges associated with Moving Target Defense systems is that network administrators and users must be able to observe and predict the system’s behavior even “while it undergoes dynamic changes,” Carvalho said in a statement.

The Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency have designated Florida Tech as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research. The U.S. News & World Report-ranked university offers Master of Science in Information Technology with a Specialization in Cybersecurity and Master of Science in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity degree programs, available 100% online.

Cyber crime presents an expanding and evolving challenge to law enforcement officials and cybersecurity professionals around the globe. In 2011, the national Internet Crime Complaint Center received more than 314,000 complaints of Internet-related crimes, totaling about $485 million in reported losses.

According to a report by the Department of Homeland Security, the agency’s Industrial Control Systems-Cyber Emergency Response Team responded to almost 200 cyber incidents related to critical infrastructure in fiscal year 2012. Of those attacks, 41% were directed toward the energy sector and 15% toward the water sector.

In his State of the Union address in February 2013, President Barack Obama spoke of a “rapidly growing threat from cyber attacks” directed against the nation’s economic, military and public infrastructure. That same month, the president issued an executive order aimed at boosting the sharing of intelligence among private entities and government agencies in order to guard against such attacks.

Category: 2013 Headlines