Designing the future of cybersecurity and more at Northeastern University

It must be one of the wonders of the world that much of the infrastructure that facilitates the Internet as we know it today is run on an infrastructure that was created in the 1970s and 1980s. Technology and networking over the years has made cybersecurity and privacy one of the most critical issues of modern times for everyone – from individuals to large organizations – around the world.

“The world was different then; things like privacy were not built into the system, ”says Professor Kaushik Chowdhury from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at Northeastern University. “Now that devices have gotten much faster, but the core network is still the same, we are working to learn the appropriate breaches and defenses to protect our information and ourselves.”

Northeastern University College of Engineering, a leading university and R1 Research institution, is at the forefront of cybersecurity research with a number of research centers and institutes and funded projects across the cybersecurity spectrum.

University Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering offers a Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering, a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering, a Doctorate in Computer Engineering, and one Doctorate in cybersecurity for those looking to enter this growing and deeply specialized field. Masters Degrees in Cyber-physical systems and Information system also offer courses in the field of cybersecurity.

At the forefront of cybersecurity research

Professor Engin Kirda, jointly appointed in Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at Northeastern University, is the Director of the Information Assurance Institute (IIA), which focuses on cybersecurity and privacy issues.

“Cyber ​​security itself is a problem that has been around for at least 15 years, but it is only recently that the Internet has become an essential infrastructure for our daily lives,” says Kirda. “While tech giants like Google and Facebook are, of course, interested in cybersecurity, so are everyone because everything is connected, including your home and all of your devices.”

In addition to large tech organizations, The IIA works with many other funding agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, and the U.S. Army and Air Force. As a result of their ongoing research and education, the Institute contributes to Northeastern’s stature as a National Security Agency / Department of Homeland Security Center of academic excellence in research and education on the information assurance.

Northeastern designs the wireless networks of the future

Photo by Matthew Modoono / Northeastern University

Another focus of cybersecurity research is that of Northeastern Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things (WIOT), headed by Professor Tommaso Melodia of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“WIOT is focused on advancing research in the areas of wireless systems in our increasingly connected world and how they interact digitally and physically,” says Melodia. “We’re trying to advance the systems that create this interface, as well as the technologies that make it possible.”

Through WIOT, Melodia and her team are involved in Coliseum, the world’s largest radio frequency channel emulator. Located in the northeast and developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Colosseum is a data center capable of emulating complex interactions, such as how wireless devices deployed in a metropolitan area behave and interact.

“Colosseum will allow us to create smart, autonomous and collaborative wireless technologies for everything from commercial to military use,” says Melodia.

Northeastern University

Taking radio fingerprints could improve the security and privacy of wireless communications. Source: Adam Glanzman / Northeastern University

Professor ECE Chowdhury strives to improve data privacy on individual devices that transmit personal data, from your smartphone to pacemakers, fitness watches, etc. “One of the ways we try to provide security in the Internet of Things (IoT) age is to identify that every device is who it claims to be,” says Chowdhury. “People who intend to steal personal information or otherwise harm can spoof a device’s unique identifier. Therefore, through my research, we strive to detect and identify devices based on the unique radio signals they transmit. ”

Chowdhury, his faculty colleagues, and their student researchers have created a deep neural network that can learn the subtle differences within each of the many types of device signals in today’s world, adding another layer. authentication that a device is what it claims to be. , called the radio fingerprint.

Researchers at Northeastern University’s College of Engineering are also involved in other areas of cybersecurity research, including:

  • Secure data mining using Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) to protect data privacy.
  • Securing deep neural networks against secondary channel and default attacks.
  • The CHEST (Center for Hardware and Embedded Systems Security and Trust) research center focused on understanding and preventing security vulnerabilities in hardware and software systems, as well as on different computing platforms, and ultimately in various applications supported by cyber-physical systems and infrastructures.
  • Work with autonomous systems, such as cars and drones, to make deep neural network models for UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) more robust and to strengthen their resistance to adverse attacks.
  • Fight against machine learning and human-centric attacks.

Students are the future

Whatever piece of the cybersecurity puzzle Northeastern School of Engineering tries to figure out, one constant is the invaluable input and innovation of students.

“They are at the heart of what we do,” says Melodia. “At WIOT, they not only research breakthrough technologies, but they are also trained to become the technology and cybersecurity leaders of tomorrow. Our graduates are highly prepared and immediately take jobs in industry, from Google to manufacturing to academia. “

“Today there are more attacks and the bad guys are getting better and more sophisticated, so defending against them requires more thought and preparation, especially from an interdisciplinary point of view.” , explains Kirda. “We are proud that the students and alumni of Northeastern are here to protect us in the future.”

To start advancing your career by working alongside world-class faculty, conducting innovative research and gaining valuable professional experience with a leading cooperative education program, visit the Northeastern University Graduate School of Engineering and apply today.

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