UMD Among Largest Recipients of NSF Funding for Cybersecurity Research and Education

UMD Among Largest Recipients of NSF Funding for Cybersecurity Research and Education

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Cybersecurity researchers from the University of Maryland have been awarded $3.5 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for projects to address vulnerabilities in hardware, software and networking technologies as well as examine the human components of cybersecurity.

The awards are part of the NSF’s Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program, which aims to enhance security practices and technologies, bolster education and training in cybersecurity, establish a science of cybersecurity and transition promising cybersecurity research into practice. UMD was among the largest recipients of awards from the SaTC program for 2015.

“These awards demonstrate the fact that the University of Maryland is an international research leader in the field of cybersecurity,” said UMD Vice President and Chief Research Officer Patrick O’Shea.

NSF officials say these significant investments in basic research will secure information and ensure privacy on the Internet, as well as improve electronic commerce, software security bug detection, spam filtering, and much more.

“NSF-supported cybersecurity research builds the foundational and multidisciplinary knowledge bases needed to protect us in cyberspace--an environment that has expanded beyond computers to encompass many aspects of our physical world and critical infrastructure,” says Jim Kurose, NSF assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering.

The bulk of the NSF funding will support researchers within the Maryland Cybersecurity Center (MC2), a multidisciplinary research and education faculty launched in 2010 with more than 60 faculty from seven colleges and schools at UMD. MC2 is jointly supported by the College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences and the A. James Clark School of Engineering. It is one of 16 labs and centers within the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS).

UMD research grants supported by the NSF funding this year include the following:


TWC: Medium: Apollo: An Architecture for Scalable Verifiable Computing

Award Number: 1514261; Principal Investigator: Charalampos Papamanthou; Co-Principal Investigator: Jonathan Katz, Amol Deshpande, Elaine Shi; University of Maryland College Park, Start Date: 07/01/2015; Award Amount: $1,162,868.00

Description: This research focuses on cryptographic "gadgets" suited for verifiable computation in different settings. Verifiable computation is enabling a computer to offload some computations to other perhaps untrusted clients, while maintaining verifiable results. The need for such tools came as a result of the increasingly common phenomenon of "outsourcing" computation to untrusted users in projects such as SETI@home and also to the outsourcing of computational tasks to a more powerful computation service like in Cloud computing. A major goal of the project is to develop a working prototype of a Scalable Verifiable Computing database.


TWC: Large: Collaborative: The Science and Applications of Crypto-Currency

Award Number: 1518765; Principal Investigator: Elaine Shi; Co-Principal Investigator: Michael Hicks, Jonathan Katz, David Van Horn, University of Maryland College Park, Start Date: 07/01/2015; Award Amount: $593,941.00

Description: This work aims to establish a rigorous scientific foundation for crypto-currencies like Bitcoin. Expected outcomes include new crypto-currency designs with provable security properties, financially enforceable cryptographic protocols whose security properties are backed by enforceable payments in case of a breach, smart contract systems that are easy to program and formally verifiable, as well as high-assurance systems for storing and handling high-value crypto-currencies and transactions.


TWC: Small: Collaborative: Practical Security Protocols via Advanced Data Structures

Award Number: 1526950; Principal Investigator: Charalampos Papamanthou; University of Maryland College Park, Start Date: 09/15/2015; Award Amount: $100,707.00

Description: The objectives of this project are to provide security and privacy both for data elements in data sets and also for the inter-relationships and distributions between such data elements, such as links between nodes in a social network, to develop new data structures to improve the efficiency of algorithms for security and/or privacy applications.


EAGER: Automated Content-Based Detection of Public Online Harassment

Award Number: 1546829; Principal Investigator: Jennifer Golbeck; University of Maryland College Park, Start Date: 07/01/2015; Award Amount: $150,000.00

Description: This research develops a method for analyzing the things people post online, and automatically detecting which posts fall into the category of severe public online harassment -- messages posted simply to disrupt, offend, or threaten others. This helps websites better limit what messages are posted and reduce the amount of harassment people experience online.


CRII: SaTC: Empirical and Analytical Models for the Deployment of Software Updates in Large Vulnerable Populations

Award Number: 1464163; Principal Investigator: Tudor Dumitras; University of Maryland College Park, Start Date: 05/15/2015; Award Amount: $170,340.00

Description: This project aims to model the dynamics of vulnerable host populations, in order to assess the practical barriers for current software updating mechanisms and the conflicts among their security and reliability goals.


CAREER: Non-Black-Box Cryptography: Defending Against and Benefiting from Access to Code

Award Number: 1453045; Principal Investigator: Dana Dachman-Soled; University of Maryland College Park, Start Date: 03/01/2015; Award Amount: $101,218.00

Description: The research goals of this proposal are to design and analyze new algorithms for secure computation in threat models that capture non-black-box attacks, and to provide a better understanding of the effectiveness of non-black-box techniques in the construction of cryptosystems. Non-black-box attacks, also known as side-channel attacks, have been shown to be remarkably effective in breaking various encryption schemes and authentication protocols.


CAREER: Practical Oblivious Computation

Award Number: 1453634; Principal Investigator: Elaine Shi; University of Maryland College Park, Start Date: 06/01/2015; Award Amount: $97,645.00

Description: This project develops a practical framework for "oblivious computation," which allows general computation over sensitive data, but without disclosing the data, addressing privacy concerns.


CAREER: Finding Levers for Privacy and Security by Design in Mobile Development

Award Number: 1452854; Principal Investigator: Katherine Shilton; University of Maryland College Park, Start Date: 09/01/2015; Award Amount: $128,140.00

Description: This project studies developers to discover those work practices that encourage privacy and data security by design, and builds tools to encourage such work practices. This project uses surveys and field experiments to determine factors that motivate privacy and security by design, and will develop and test evidence-based toolkits for mobile developers to improve privacy and data security in the mobile data ecosystem.


For more information, see the NSF announcement regarding the SaTC program awards.

October 21, 2015


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