April 9, 2010
Jeremy Craig, 404-413-1357
ATLANTA - A cybersecurity researcher at Georgia State will work with other U.S. security experts to face the needs, risks and challenges of defense in the face of the growing threat of information warfare in the 21st century.
Raheem Beyah, assistant professor of computer science, was selected by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as one of only 12 junior faculty members nationwide to join the agency's Computer Science Study Group, a program that supports university research in computer science and related fields.
"It's an honor, because it's much more than a grant," said Beyah, head of the GSU Communications Assurance and Performance Group. "This is a critical time and I look forward to being able to use my expertise to help the country."
DARPA is the Defense Department's research and development office, dedicated to furthering discoveries that help maintain technological readiness of the U.S. military. DARPA has been responsible for many advances in defense and communications technology - notably the network that would later become the basis for the Internet.
Cybersecurity is a paramount issue in national defense. As defense systems are more dependent on data networking as never before, and as the entire economy is linked via networks, an attack could enact serious damage.
This was exemplified during the 2008 conflict between the former Soviet republic of Georgia and Russia, where early in the ground war, a cyberattack by hackers shut down information systems of the Georgian government, media and banking Web sites.
As part of Beyah's selection to the study group, he will participate in classified briefings and tour installations to further understand the Defense Department's activities in planning, programming and cyberdefense issues. He will also receive a $100,000 research grant to pursue a separate research project exploring a secure way to synchronize network data.
He explained that most networks require some sort of synchronization to communicate data correctly. For example, to detect a burglary, someone could set up a security camera system that relays pictures digitally into a final video product. If the data does not come in the correct order, the user might not have correct information to see where a burglary started.
The military relies on sensors in the field to give feedback, such as vibration sensors to detect tank movements. If data is out of sync, there could be repercussions.
"If one sensor reports data out of order, it could make you think that a tank is going north to south instead of south to north, which could completely jeopardize the mission," Beyah said. He and a graduate student have developed a technique to help synchronize data without revealing too much to outside listeners about the synchronization.
In subsequent phases of the study group, he will become eligible for further funding from DARPA to continue research, which may lead to substantial Defense Department support to continue computer technology development beyond the study group.
For more about the GSU Communications Assurance and Performance Group, visit http://cs.gsu.edu/cap.