Scott DeLoach, professor of computing and information sciences, and Xinming "Simon" Ou, associate professor of computing and information sciences, are researching the feasibility of building a computer network that could protect itself against online attackers by automatically changing its setup and configuration.
DeLoach and Ou were recently awarded a five-year grant of more than $1 million from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to fund the study "Understanding and quantifying the impact of moving target defenses on computer networks." The study, which began in April, will be the first to document whether this type of adaptive cybersecurity, called moving-target defense, can be effective. If it can work, researchers will determine if the benefits of creating a moving-target defense system outweigh the overhead and resources needed to build it.
Helping Ou and DeLoach in their investigation and research are Kansas State University students Rui Zhuang and Su Zhang, both doctoral candidates in computing and information sciences from China, and Alexandru Bardas, doctoral student in computing and information sciences from Romania.
As the study progresses the computer scientists will develop a set of analytical models to determine the effectiveness of a moving-target defense system. They will also create a proof-of-concept system as a way to experiment with the idea in a concrete setting.
"It's important to investigate any scientific evidence that shows that this approach does work so it can be fully researched and developed," DeLoach said. He started collaborating with Ou to apply intelligent adaptive techniques to cybersecurity several years ago after a conversation at a university open house.
The term moving-target defense -- a subarea of adaptive security in the cybersecurity field -- was first coined around 2008, although similar concepts have been proposed and studied since the early 2000s. The idea behind moving-target defense in the context of computer networks is to create a computer network that is no longer static in its configuration. Instead, as a way to thwart cyber attackers, the network automatically and periodically randomizes its configuration through various methods -- such as changing the addresses of software applications on the network; switching between instances of the applications; and changing the location of critical system data.
Ou and DeLoach said the key is to make the network appear to an attacker that it is changing chaotically while to an authorized user the system operates normally.
"If you have a Web server, pretty much anybody in the world can figure out where you are and what software you're running," DeLoach said. "If they know that, they can figure out what vulnerabilities you have. In a typical scenario, attackers scan your system and find out everything they can about your server configuration and what security holes it has. Then they select the best time for them to attack and exploit those security holes in order to do the most damage. This could change that."
Creating a computer network that could automatically detect and defend itself against cyber attacks would substantially increase the security of online data for universities, government departments, corporations and businesses -- all of which have been the targets of large-scale cyber attacks.
In February 2011 it was discovered that the Nasdaq Stock Market's computer network had been infiltrated by hackers. Although federal investigators concluded that it was unlikely the hackers stole any information, the network's security had been left vulnerable for more than a year while the hackers visited it numerous times.
According to Ou, creating a moving-target defense system would shift the power imbalance that currently resides with hackers -- who need only find a single security hole to exploit -- back to the network administrators -- who would have a system that frequently removes whatever security privileges attackers may gain with a new clean slate.
"This is a game-changing idea in cybersecurity," Ou said. "People feel that we are currently losing against online attackers. In order to fundamentally change the cybersecurity landscape and reduce that high risk we need some big, fundamental changes to the way computers and networks are constructed and organized."
A related story about how this cybersecurity model may benefit a new cloud-based network for businesses can be read at http://bit.ly/ID4z9F.Scott DeLoach, 785-532-6350, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Scott DeLoach | Newswise Science News
Further reports about: > Cybersecurity > Investigation > Self-Adapting > Xinming > adaptive cybersecurity > computer network > computer networks > cyber attack > information science > moving-target defense > moving-target defense system > proof-of-concept system > security holes > software application
Cutting edge research for the industries of tomorrow – DFKI and NICT expand cooperation
21.03.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI
Molecular motor-powered biocomputers
20.03.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy