Scientists from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) have developed the world’s first cyber agility framework to monitor and understand how hackers operate.
The cyber agility project funded by the Army Research Office aims to quickly detect and respond to cyber attacks before they can cause damage to industries and governments alike.
“Cyber agility isn’t just about patching a security hole, it’s about understanding what happens over time,” notes UTSA researcher and chief designer of the framework, Jose Mireles. “Sometimes when you protect one vulnerability, you expose yourself to 10 others.”
“In car crashes, we understand how to test for safety using the rules of physics. It is much harder to quantify cybersecurity because scientists have yet to figure out what are the rules of cybersecurity. Having formal metrics and measurement to understand the attacks that occur will benefit a wide range of cyber professionals.”
Mireles collaborated with fellow UTSA student Eric Ficke, researchers at Virginia Tech, U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory (CCDC ARL) to develop the framework.
As part of their study, the researchers made use of a honeypot – a computer system that lures real cyber-attacks – to attract and analyze malicious traffic according to time and effectiveness.
This enabled them to better understand how a series of engagements transformed into an adaptive, responsive and agile pattern by analyzing the new techniques created by both attackers and defenders.
The scientists believe that their groundbreaking work could help governments and industry organizations visualize how well they out-maneuver attacks.
“The cyber agility framework is the first of its kind and allows cyber defenders to test out numerous and varied responses to an attack,” intones UTSA Professor Shouhuai Xu. “This is an outstanding piece of work as it will shape the investigation and practice of cyber agility for the many years to come.”
Image and content: University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA)