Every day researchers at Carnegie Mellon's CyLab confront issues of cyber security, which are complicated by frequent advancements in computing technology. As a key component to global economic growth, cyber security and sustainability affect millions of people and businesses. Accidents happen, as do intentional attacks, but CyLab researchers ensure that those disruptions are minor at worst.
Protecting Information Systems
Opened in 2003, CyLab is a public-private partnership between Carnegie Mellon, government, and industry to engage in research and education, and to develop the technological tools that secure, protect, and improve information systems. CyLab involves over 200 Carnegie Mellon faculty and students from eight departments and colleges, in collaboration with the CERT Coordination Center and more than 30 strategic partners. The lab has been designated a National Science Foundation (NSF) CyberTrust Center and a National Security Administration (NSA) Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.
CyLab's resource rich environment includes the CyLab Mobility Research Center (MRC), which explores the various networking technologies enabling anytime-anywhere computing and communication; the CyLab Biometrics Lab a world-class multi-modal biometrics program researching critical challenges such as 3D face reconstruction, 2D pose correction, and 2D facial landmark detection; and the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory (CUPS), improving the usability of privacy and security software and systems. CyLab also has research and education centers in Greece, Japan, Portugal, Taiwan, and Silicon Valley.
Whereas many security teams are reactionary, CyLab partners invest heavily in research in next-generation response and prediction technologies, threat prediction modeling, business risk analysis and economic implications, and resilient self-healing networks and computer systems, among other fields. The proactive approach and global perspective provide researchers with the necessary tools to compete with ever-increasing challenges.
Happy Birthday, CyLab
In honor of CyLab's 5th birthday, the university hosted the 2008 Annual Partners Conference, October 6-8, to celebrate the vital research that has defined the center as the premier institution for cyber security education and research.
The conference included presentations and roundtable discussions between partners and researchers, as well as updates by faculty on research advances in mobility, next-generation secure Internet, available and secure network and communication, secure home computing, access to devices and spaces, available and secure systems and services, and protecting privacy and confidentiality of information.
During his keynote address, Chris Inglis, deputy director of the NSA, remarked that "the virtual world has overrun the physical, creating a situation where, at least for information, physical barriers no longer equate to separation, let alone sanctuary…Our ability to connect to everything, yields the obvious and sobering prospect that everything out there has the ability to connect to us." Bill Cheswick, lead member of the technical staff at AT&T, also spoke at the conference.
Although Inglis's observation might make some computer users apprehensive, he reassured the community that "increased awareness of cyber security issues, new standards, better education, expanded information sharing, more uniform practices, and improved technology can and do make a meaningful difference." Like all work at Carnegie Mellon, CyLab's mission is to actualize that meaningful difference.
Some Much-Deserved Recognition
Since its inception, CyLab has been recognized as a world leader in cyber technology. MIT Technology Review highlighted CyLab researcher and ECE Professor Marios Savvides's work on super-resolution facial recognition and iris scanning software, as well as robots that inspect and pick up roadside explosives—inquiries which could save lives on the battlefield.
"This is what makes [me and my graduate students] work until 5 a.m.," said Savvides, in an interview with Pittsburgh's WTAE. Although the research is still ongoing, breakthroughs are happening everyday.
Savvides isn't the only one making headlines: Dena Haritos Tsamitis, director of education, training, and outreach for CyLab and director of Carnegie Mellon's Information Networking Institute (INI), recently received the prestigious 2008 Women of Influence Award. Given by Alta Associates and CSO Magazine, the award recognizes her outstanding professional and academic leadership in developing innovative information-security education programs. Tsamitis is a founding member of CyLab and a mentor for women in the global workforce.
Shortly after the Partners Meeting, the NSF awarded a $300,000 grant to CyLab and the INI to help minority institutions offer quality information assurance education. The two-year workshop will help the institutions develop curricula inspired by the innovative work at Carnegie Mellon. Tsamitis will play a key role in the program's development.
Looking Toward the Future
Speaking about our shared interest in security and information assurance, Inglis noted that the Partners Conference provided "another valuable opportunity to inform not only in the matter of challenges and potential solutions, but to discuss how to increase the collaboration that will be essential to our collective security."
While completely ridding the world of cyber security issues may be a long way off, with help from government and industry, CyLab faculty can explore new avenues of research, which will ensure our security, both physical and financial.
To learn more about how to become a CyLab partner, please contact Gene Hambrick, CyLab's Director of Corporate Relations.