$637,000 Awarded to Improve Recovery of Critical Systems After Cyber Attacks

Brajendra Panda
Photo by University Relations

Brajendra Panda

The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity, located within the National Security Agency, awarded $637,223 to Brajendra Panda, a professor of computer science and computer engineering, to improve recovery methods for critical infrastructure systems following a cyber-attack. 

Critical infrastructure includes things like the power grid, gas and oil pipelines, military installations and hospitals. An example of a recent attack on critical infrastructure is the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline last year. The attack on computerized equipment left the pipeline down for six days while the company forked over an estimated $4.4 million in Bitcoin to pay the attackers (though much of it was subsequently recovered). 

In his proposal, Panda notes that the interdependence and interconnection of CI systems make them more vulnerable to cyber-attacks and can cause initial damage to spread quickly to other systems. “Thus, a small vulnerability in one of these systems can result in crippling a large number of them,” Panda noted. “These systems are of heterogeneous type by nature, meaning they contain both heterogeneous software and data.”

Due to the complexity of CI systems, recovering them can cause significant delays, which is concerning given the time-sensitive nature of the functions these systems provide, such as electricity. 

Panda’s goal is to develop fast, accurate and efficient recovery mechanisms that, when coupled with the expeditious damage assessment techniques he has already developed, will offer an “integrated suite solution.” This will allow affected CI systems to continue running while providing as many critical functionalities as possible.

The two-year grant, with an option for a third year, builds on a previous $287,000 grant from the same funding agency that focused on expediting assessment of damage following a cyber-attack. 

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the few U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News

Contacts

Brajendra Panda, professor
Department of Computer Science and Computer Engineering
479-575-2067, bpanda@uark.edu

Hardin Young, assistant director of research communications
University Relations
479-575-6850, hyoung@uark.edu

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