Researchers with the Center for Advanced Computer Studies at the University of Louisiana are focused on strengthening the nation's cyber infrastructure. Their goal: to develop a deeper understanding of the cat-and-mouse game played by cyber defenders and cyber attackers.

The project is being led by University of Louisiana professors Drs. Arun Lakhotia and Andrew Walenstein and is being funded by the U.S. Department of Defense Air Force's Office of Scientific Research.

The pair is collaborating with Dr. Vir Phoha, director of the Center for Secure Cyberspace at Louisiana Tech in Ruston and Dr. Bin Mai of Bowie State University in Bowie, Md.

The researchers will develop theoretical models of offensive and defensive strategies used on the Internet. These models will aid cyber defenders in predicting the next move of hackers.

" The research will enable cyber defenders to anticipate the attackers next move. So far, the defenders have been reactive, scampering to respond to the move by an attacker. The research will change the nature of the game," said Lakhotia, principal investigator for the project.

The group will work with McAfee Labs, a leader in anti-virus industry. Rachit Mathur, research scientist at McAfee Labs, will join the research and industry advisory board.

Mathur, a former student of Lakhotia, received his training in the very lab he will now advise. He will provide the investigators insights into mechanisms used by attackers to defeat current technologies.

The project is a unique industry-university-government partnership.

" Unlike other fundamental research, the techniques and strategies used by cyber attackers evolve rapidly," said Dr. Bradd Clark, dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences at UL. "Participation of McAfee Labs in an advisory capacity will help ground this research in reality so that the results produced can more directly impact development of defensive technologies."

The involvement of McAfee Labs is expected to speed up research in this critical area by participating in the early stages of research.

" We are very excited to participate in this project to help advance the state of research at a faster pace," said Hiep Dang, McAfee Lab's director of anti-malware research. "A deep understanding of the design options of stealth and anti-stealth techniques placed in the context of game-theory should provide the industry a new way to design and analyze our defensive technologies."

UL Press