Advanced Security Tools Coming Soon

An 18-month-old cybersecurity research consortium organized by Northrop Grumman is making progress on several fronts and expects to have technologies ready to deploy in about a year, officials said at a briefing earlier this month.

The Northrop Grumman Cybersecurity Research Consortium has focused on improving mobile and cloud security and on reducing the cost of recovery from cyberattacks, said Robert Brammer, vice president of advanced technology and CTO at Northrop Grumman Information Systems.

Cloud security is a high priority for the consortium, which also includes MIT, Carnegie Mellon University and Purdue University, Brammer said. For example, researchers are studying how to use low-cost processors to perform specialized encryption tasks in a cloud environment, and the use of digital watermarking technologies to establish the integrity of data.

Another project involves optimizing the configuration and location of security sensors on computer networks. The goal is to place sensors in a network "so you don't slow it down, you don't generate too many false alarms, and you don't have to spend too much on sensors," said Eugene Spafford, a computer science professor at Purdue.

MIT is spearheading a project focused on automatically returning a computer to a clean state after a malware attack, said Ronald Rivest, an MIT computer science professor.

"Many machines are compromised daily," he said. "Cleaning up after these inevitable compromises leads to days of wasted effort by either the end users or by systems administrators."

In some cases, Northrop Grumman will use the consortium's research in its customers' networks. The universities are also free to seek other ways to commercialize research that they've conducted in-house, Spafford said.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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