University Startup Collaborates on $2.2 Million, AI-Driven Cybersecurity Project

From left to right, Bastazo team members are Andrew Bomberger, Spencer Massengale and Philip Huff from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Dakota Dale from the U of A; Matt Kennett from UALR; and Qinghua Li, Thao LeVasicek, Kylie McClanahan, Yaling Liu and Distinguished Professor Alan Mantooth from the U of A. Not pictured is Jia Di of the U of A.
Provided by Bastazo

From left to right, Bastazo team members are Andrew Bomberger, Spencer Massengale and Philip Huff from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Dakota Dale from the U of A; Matt Kennett from UALR; and Qinghua Li, Thao LeVasicek, Kylie McClanahan, Yaling Liu and Distinguished Professor Alan Mantooth from the U of A. Not pictured is Jia Di of the U of A.

With a $2.2 million grant from the BIRD Foundation, Bastazo, a U.S.-based startup with strong ties to the U of A and University of Arkansas at Little Rock, will partner with Salvador Technologies to develop advanced artificial-intelligence automation and rapid-recovery hardware to protect industrial control systems.

The intiative will address escalating concerns posted by sophisticated external threats, including ransomware.

"Our collaboration with Salvador Technologies represents a union of revolutionary cybersecurity concepts," said Philip Huff, co-founder of Bastazo and assistant professor of computer science at UALR. "Leveraging large language models to automate decisions is not just a leap for us, but a giant step for the entire industrial cybersecurity sector."

Rooted in Arkansas, Bastazo specializes in cutting-edge cybersecurity solutions. It uses artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to support cybersecurity operations in critical infrastructures across many industries.

The collaboration with Salvador Technologies provides an opportunity to reinforce security and innovation. Salvador Technologies is renowned for its rapid-restoration technology for control systems.

"Our partnership with Bastazo enables a holistic approach to cybersecurity, ensuring not just rapid recovery, but preemptive threat detection," said Alex Yevtushenko, CEO of Salvador Technologies.

The mission of the BIRD (Binational Industrial Research and Development) Foundation is to stimulate, promote and support industrial research and development of mutual benefit to the United States and Israel.

Bastazo, a Greek word meaning to carry the burden, was founded in 2020 by Huff and three U of A faculty members, Distinguished Professor Alan Mantooth; Jia Di, professor and chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; and Qinghua Li, associate professor of computer science. The company is based on licensed technology initially developed at the Secure, Evolvable Energy Delivery Systems, a U.S. Department of Energy cybersecurity center at the U of A.

Contacts

Alan Mantooth, Distinguished Professor
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
479-575-4838, mantooth@uark.edu

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