Cybersecurity and Software Assurance Minitrack

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Modern society is irreversibly dependent on software systems of astonishing scope and complexity. Yet despite best efforts, errors, vulnerabilities, failures, and compromises continue to persist. Networked systems with complex hardware and software components embody many pathways that adversaries can exploit. Experience shows that contemporary cybersecurity and software assurance methods are insufficient to meet this challenge. Each day, cybersecurity demands our attention. From working on laptops to loading apps on phones to evaluating the safety of software-enabled devices, we must decide how best to protect information and services in an enlightened approach that balances practical issues of cost and functionality. There is increasing recognition of the need for rigorous foundations for cybersecurity and software assurance. This minitrack focuses on how to enable development and application of these foundations. We ask: How should research and development move us toward a solid basis in understanding and principle? The goal is to develop science foundations, technologies, and practices that can improve the security and dependability of complex systems. This minitrack will bring together researchers in cybersecurity assurance in a multidisciplinary approach to these problems. Our minitrack invites work embracing multiple perspectives, levels of abstraction, and evaluation of best practices and policies that help us to understand and assure the security of complex systems. We welcome papers about tools and techniques in that apply scientific and rigorous approaches or reveal underlying commonalities and constructs.

The following topics will be included in the minitrack:

  • Security ecosystem
  • Designed-in security
  • Tailored trustworthy spaces
  • Moving target
  • Cyber economics
  • Science of security
  • Multivariate detection and response
  • Co-evolution of defense and offense
  • Biologically-inspired security models
  • Holistic risk analysis
  • Hardware-enabled trust
  • Layered adaptable defense
  • Real-time coordinated response
  • Automated system interoperability
  • Authentication in ecosystem
  • Practical use of continuous monitoring
  • Confidence in activity prediction
  • Security visualization and prediction
  • Theories of vulnerability classification and control
  • Security measurement
  • Advances in information assurance theory and practice
  • Advances in specification, design, and implementation of assured systems
  • Advances in verification, testing, and certification of assured systems
  • Advances in software security analysis
  • Assurance for embedded systems and hardware components
  • Assurance for large-scale infrastructure systems
  • Information and software assurance in cloud computing environments
  • Assurance in system maintenance and evolution
  • Automated methods for information and software assurance
  • Assurance through computation of software behavior
  • Management of assurance operations
  • Processes and metrics for information and software assurance
  • Business case and ROI development for information and software assurance
  • Supply chain and standards issues in information and software assurance
  • Case studies of system assurance successes
  • Software testing

Minitrack Co-Chairs:

Luanne Goldrich (Primary Contact)
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab

Richard George
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab

Thomas Llanso
Johns Hopkins APL


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 6
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    Present but Unreachable: Reducing Persistentlatent Secrets in HotSpot JVM
    ( 2017-01-04) Pridgen, Adam ; Garfinkel, Simson ; Wallach, Dan
    Applications that manage \ sensitive secrets, including cryptographic keys, are typically \ engineered to overwrite the secrets in memory once they're no longer \ necessary, offering an important defense against forensic attacks \ against the computer. In a modern garbage-collected memory system, \ however, live objects will be copied and compacted into new memory \ pages, with the user program being unable to reach and zero out \ obsolete copies in old memory pages that have not yet \ been reused. This paper considers this problem in the HotSpot JVM, \ the default JVM used by the Oracle and OpenJDK Java platforms. \ We analyze the SerialGC and Garbage First Garbage Collector (G1GC) \ implementations, showing that sensitive data such as TLS keys are \ easily extracted from the garbage. To mitigate this issue, we \ implemented techniques to sanitize older heap pages and we measure \ the performance impact--sometimes good, sometimes unacceptable. We \ also discuss how future garbage collectors might be designed from \ scratch with efficient heap sanitation in mind. \
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    Identifying Implicit Component Interactions in Distributed Cyber-Physical Systems
    ( 2017-01-04) Jaskolka, Jason ; Villasenor, John
    Modern distributed systems and networks, like those found in cyber-physical system domains such as critical infrastructures, contain many complex interactions among their constituent software and/or hardware components. Despite extensive testing of individual components, security vulnerabilities resulting from unintended and unforeseen component interactions (so-called implicit interactions) often remain undetected. This paper presents a method for identifying the existence of implicit interactions in designs of distributed cyber-physical systems using the algebraic modeling framework known as Communicating Concurrent Kleene Algebra (C²KA). Experimental results verifying the applicability of C²KA for identifying dependencies in system designs that would otherwise be very hard to find are also presented. More broadly, this research aims to advance the specification, design, and implementation of distributed cyber-physical systems with improved cybersecurity assurance by providing a new way of thinking about the problem of implicit interactions through the application of formal methods.
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    Can Cybersecurity Be Proactive? A Big Data Approach and Challenges
    ( 2017-01-04) Chen, Hong-Mei ; Kazman, Rick ; Monarch, Ira ; Wang, Ping
    The cybersecurity community typically reacts to attacks after they occur. Being reactive is costly and can be fatal where attacks threaten lives, important data, or mission success. But can cybersecurity be done proactively? Our research capitalizes on the Germination Period—the time lag between hacker communities discussing software flaw types and flaws actually being exploited—where proactive measures can be taken. We argue for a novel proactive approach, utilizing big data, for (I) identifying potential attacks before they come to fruition; and based on this identification, (II) developing preventive counter-measures. The big data approach resulted in our vision of the Proactive Cybersecurity System (PCS), a layered, modular service platform that applies big data collection and processing tools to a wide variety of unstructured data sources to predict vulnerabilities and develop countermeasures. Our exploratory study is the first to show the promise of this novel proactive approach and illuminates challenges that need to be addressed.
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    BluGen: An Analytic Framework for Mission-Cyber Risk Assessment and Mitigation Recommendation
    ( 2017-01-04) Llanso, Thomas ; McNeil, Martha ; Pearson, Dallas ; Moore, George
    Systems security engineering (SSE) is a complex, manually intensive process, with implications for cost, time required, and repeatability/reproducibility. This paper describes BluGen, an analytic framework that generates risk plots and recommends prioritized mitigations for a target mission/system environment based on a stated level of threat and risk tolerance. The goal is to give working system security engineers a head start in their analysis. We describe BluGen in the context of Design Science Research and evaluate accordingly.
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    Agile Research for Cybersecurity: Creating Authoritative, Actionable Knowledge When Speed Matters
    ( 2017-01-04) Linger, Richard ; Goldrich, Luanne ; Bishop, Matt ; Dark, Melissa
    Securing information systems from attack and com-promise is a problem of massive scope and global scale. Traditional, long-term research provides a deep understanding of the foundations for protecting systems, networks, and infrastructures. But sponsors often need applied research that will create results for immediate application to unforeseen cybersecurity events. The Agile Research process is a new approach to provide this type of rapid, authoritative, applied research. It is designed to be fast, transparent, and iterative, with each iteration producing results that can be applied quickly. The idea is to engage subject-matter experts fast enough to make a difference. Agile Research re-quires new levels of collaboration and performance, plus adaptive organizational structures that support this new way of working. In addition to its application in Government, Agile Research is being employed in academic settings, and is influencing how research requirements and researchers are identified and matched, and research traineeship.