UNT assistant professor Hassan Takabi recently received more than $1 million in grants from the National Science Foundation.
A $515,974 grant will be spent developing a computer defense against malicious insiders who leverage basic computer access into unauthorized computer entry.
“If a person from inside a system tries to access data they shouldn’t, we are going to put false paths and fake information in their way,” says Takabi, a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. “Most computer systems have some form of access control; a program that allows different users to have different levels of access. Oftentimes, low-level users will try to bypass the access control system to view, and sometimes steal, higher level information. That is where we come in.”
Takabi is designing his system to supplement access control systems. It won’t just lead malicious users to fake files; it will also allow them to be traced to their point of origin. Insider threats can then be identified and their access restricted.
The second grant for $499,581 will be used to develop a set of instructional modules and hands-on lab exercises that will merge the study of data science and analytics with cybersecurity.
“Traditionally, students studying data analytics don’t cross over into cybersecurity and vice versa.” Takabi explains. “Yet, with companies compiling massive amounts of data — think Facebook and Google — there is a need for cybersecurity experts who are also skilled in data analytics.”
This grant is in collaboration with Eduardo Blanco, also a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.