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EECS Professor Receives NSF Funding to Improve Cybersecurity through Morphing IT Systems - Moving Target Defense

March 20, 2019

The NSF is supporting Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Assistant Professor Alexandru Bardas to develop a novel approach for protecting computer systems and networks. Current information technology (IT) systems used by regular users and companies are relatively static configurations; giving adversaries an advantage of time. A promising new approach, called Moving Target Defense or MTD, has emerged as a potential solution. MTD techniques are expected to increase uncertainty and complexity for attackers, reduce their window of opportunity and raise the costs of their reconnaissance and attack endeavors. Unfortunately, the current MTD approaches tend to address individual aspects on an IT system. Intuitively, the idea of applying MTD techniques to an entire IT system should provide enhanced security; however, research in this area is still in its initial stages.

Current approaches focus on changing internal components of an IT system without modifying the overall structure of the system. While these efforts are important building-blocks in creating truly dynamic IT systems, there are open research questions that must be answered before the full potential of MTD can be assessed.

The overarching goal Professor Bardas’ project is to develop a novel, comprehensive framework for creating and managing structurally-changing (morphing) IT systems in real-world scenarios. This exploratory investigation will include evaluating and quantifying the feasibility and effectiveness of moving target defenses in the context of structurally-changing IT systems and designing an MTD framework/platform that creates and manages these IT systems.

Professor Bardas' research project is funded through the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Research Initiation Initiative (CRII) program. The goal of the CRII award is to encourage potentially transformative research endeavors for early-career faculty.

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