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Florida Tech Researchers Enlisted as Cyber Defenders

Federal grant will fund efforts to boost cyber-attack detection capabilities.

By University Alliance on March 16, 2015
Florida Tech Receives $730,000 Homeland Security Grant

The nation’s cyber defenders are tapping into the expertise of Florida Institute of Technology researchers in their ongoing battle against attackers targeting critical infrastructure.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate recently awarded a two-year, $730,000 grant to Marco Carvalho, executive director of the Harris Institute for Assured Information at Florida Tech. Carvalho will spearhead an institute project to improve the monitoring and coordination of cyber-attack detection and defenses across the public and private sectors.

“We have been working on agent-based command and control frameworks for the Department of Defense for a few years, with very successful results,” Carvalho, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Cybersecurity, said in a December 2014 statement.

The Science and Technology Directorate was established in 2003 to develop technology and products to bolster homeland security efforts, from cybersecurity to border security. As the main research and development component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the directorate collaborates with universities and businesses.

The Harris Institute on the Florida Tech campus in Melbourne, Florida, was founded in 2009 under the direction of Professor Richard Ford. The National Security Agency’s Central Security Service has designated the institute a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research.

Carvalho joined the institute in 2012 and became director in 2014. Ford, who is head of the Computer Science and Cybersecurity department, recently described his colleague as “seriously dedicated to the science of cybersecurity.”

Concern is growing about the risk of cyber attacks against power grids, mass transit systems, financial networks, water supplies and the energy sector – the critical infrastructure that DHS considers “the backbone of America’s national security and economic prosperity.”

Ford is among the experts who consider such attacks to be the biggest cyber threat facing the United States.

As part of the two-year contract with the Science and Technology Directorate, researchers at the Harris Institute will expand their previous studies into software-agent frameworks for cyber defense, according to Florida Tech. Software agents are self-directed and goal-oriented computer programs that can collaborate with humans or other programs.

“We are very excited to bring our research to the next level, and honored that DHS would enlist Florida Tech for work of such impact and significance,” Carvalho said.

Category: 2015 Headlines