UMBC Cyber Dawgs rank #1 among university teams at annual Capture the Flag event

 

UMBC Cyber Dawgs #1 among university
teams at annual Capture the Flag event

 

The UMBC Cyber Dawgs ranked #1 among university teams in a challenging cybersecurity competition hosted virtually by the University of Maryland, College Park on April 18. 

The Capture the Flag event was designed to test teams’ abilities to solve a variety of realistic cybersecurity problems. UMBC went head to head with more than 300 teams from both colleges and industry, placing third overall and #1 among the universities.

Charles Nicholas, professor of computer science and electrical engineering and a Cyber Dawgs faculty advisor, says that the team’s win shows how well-prepared UMBC students are for careers in cybersecurity, and how committed they are to excelling in intercollegiate competition. “It speaks volumes about our students, their enthusiasm, and their character,” he says.

Reflecting on the Cyber Dawgs’ #3 overall finish, Nicholas shares, “The teams that beat us are made up of experienced cyber professionals, who do this sort of work for a living.” To end the competition as the leading university team and trailing just two professional teams was quite a feat, he notes, saying, “Our faculty and our university are very proud of these students.”

The Cyber Dawgs recently won the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. They are preparing for the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, which will be held virtually in May.

Adapted from a UMBC News article written by Megan Hanks. Banner image: A person typing on a computer. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

UMBC Cyber Dawgs win Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

 

UMBC Cyber Dawgs win Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

 

Last weekend, the UMBC Cyber Dawgs took first place in the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (MACCDC), which was held virtually. UMBC’s team was one of eight that participated in the competition, fighting to protect their networks efficiently and effectively from simulated cyber threats and attacks. The team topped Penn State; the University of Maryland, College Park; and University of Virginia, which won the national championship for the past two years.

UMBC’s Cyber Dawgs will move on to compete in the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC). Due to COVID-19, the competition will be held remotely this year.

How does the competition work?

These regional and national competitions attract leading collegiate cybersecurity teams from across the nation. They put teams in situations that mimic scenarios they might encounter working to secure and protect online systems for government agencies and companies. Throughout each challenge, teammates work together to protect their systems from hackers and cyber attacks. At the same time, they keep their networks accessible to the users relying on them. 

Meet the team

The MACCDC was about 14 hours long, and was held over two days. During the competition, the teams were not permitted to interact with their coaches Charles Nicholas, professor of computer science and electrical engineering (CSEE), and Rick Forno, senior lecturer in CSEE.

The winning UMBC team included Anna Staats ‘20, computer science; RJ Joyce ‘18, M.S. ‘20, computer science; Cyrus Bonyadi, Ph.D. ‘23, computer science; Drew Barrett ‘20, computer science; Seamus Burke ‘20, computer science; Henry Budris ‘22, computer science; Chris Skane ‘21, computer science; and Nikola Bura ‘21, computer science. 

“We are so proud of our team, and their ability to work together as a team under such extraordinary conditions,” says Nicholas.

This is the third time in six years that the Cyber Dawgs have won the MACCDC. The UMBC team won the national championship in 2017.


Adapted from a UMBC News article by Megan Hanks. Banner image: Student using a computer. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

Talk: Lance Hoffman (GWU) Cyber Policy Challenges, 12-1pm 4/24 online

The UMBC Cyber Defense Lab presents

Cyber Policy Challenges

Lance J. Hoffman
Distinguished Professor, George Washington University

12–1:00 pm, Friday, 24 April 2020

remotely via WebEx


System attackers and defenders operate on a constantly changing battlefield, and some of the more serious conflicts involving nation-states could be considered acts of war, though we are still in the early stages of defining war in cyberspace. Policies for security and privacy can vary wildly, and have important personal, national, and global consequences for privacy, free speech, censorship, and other issues. Things get even more complicated with the advent of the Internet of Things, where (mostly unsophisticated) users may think they have more control than they actually do and can make bad mistakes. Various ethical issues related to the development of these systems, including bias in artificial intelligence and what harm to choose when harm is unavoidable have only started to be examined. This talk will provide both historical context and some discussion of topical issues such as Zoombombing and the security of electronic voting systems as compared to mail ballots and traditional voting.


Professor Lance J. Hoffman is the author or editor of numerous articles and five books on computer security and privacy. He developed the first regularly offered course on computer security at the University of California, Berkeley in 1970. A Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery and a member of the Cyber Security Hall of Fame, Dr. Hoffman institutionalized the ACM Conference on Computers, Freedom, and Privacy. He has served on a number of Advisory Committees including those of Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Homeland Security and has testified before Congress on security and privacy-related issues. He is the principal investigator of the CyberCorps program at GWU. Dr. Hoffman earned his Ph. D. in Computer Science from Stanford University, after a B.S. in Mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University.


Host: Alan T. Sherman, Support for this event was provided in part by the National Science Foundation under SFS grant DGE-1753681. The UMBC Cyber Defense Lab meets biweekly Fridays. All meetings are open to the public. Upcoming CDL meetings: May 8, Jason Wells (UMBC SFS scholar) law enforcement; May 22, Spring SFS Meeting at UMBC, 9:30am-2pm, ITE456

online talk: Opal Hard Drives for Ransomware Resilience

The UMBC Cyber Defense Lab presents

Opal Hard Drives for Ransomware Resilience

Russ Fink, Ph.D.
Senior Staff, the Johns Hopkins University / Applied Physics Laboratory

12:00–1 pm,  Friday, 10 April 2020
via WebEx: umbc.webex.com/meet/sherman

 

Ransomware is crippling industry and government alike.  Paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee you’ll get your files back, but it funds the criminals who will continue on. Restoring from traditional network backups takes time, and never gets you back to the system you had before the attack.  In response, we have developed a resilient, local malware restore and recovery capability, capable of quickly restoring OS images onto “bare metal” after an attack or misconfiguration, useful for many applications.

I will discuss the technical details, including a description of the Opal hard drive specification, the Trusted Computing Group’s Trusted Platform Module (TPM), and how we secure secrets needed for WUBU – Wake-Up-Back-Up.  I’ll talk through some of the open-source technologies that we used to build our solution.  WebEx willing, I will give a live demonstration of a ShinoLocker ransomware infection, followed by an “as if nothing ever happened” recovery that takes only ten minutes.

Russ Fink is a senior staff member at the Johns Hopkins University / Applied Physics Laboratory.  His research interests include computational private information retrieval, trusted computing applications, applied cryptography, and enterprise and mission cyber resiliency techniques.  He earned a Ph.D. in computer science from UMBC in 2010 working with Dr. Alan Sherman.  email: 

Host: Alan T. Sherman, . Support for this event was provided in part by the National Science Foundation under SFS grant DGE-1753681.  The UMBC Cyber Defense Lab meets biweekly Fridays.  All meetings are open to the public.  Upcoming CDL Meetings:

  • Apr 24, Lance Hoffman (GWU), policy
  • May 8, Jason Wells (UMBC SFS scholar), law enforcement
  • May 22, Spring SFS Meeting at UMBC, 9:30am-2pm, ITE 456

Prof. Naghmeh Karimi receives NSF CAREER award for research on the security of cryptographic chips

Professor Karimi and a custom measurement board developed by her collaborators at the University of Buchum, Germany that is being used to test a 65 nm application-specific integrated circuit sample

 

Investigating the Impact of Device Aging on the Security of Cryptographic Chips

 

Professor Naghmeh Karimi received a prestigious NSF CAREER award to support her research on Investigating the impact of device aging on the security of cryptographic chips.

CAREER awards are among NFS’s most prestigious awards and are intended to support early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

Cryptographic chips implement cryptographic functions in hardware for better performance. Despite the significant performance benefits, cryptographic chips can be compromised by the adversaries via monitoring their power-consumption, tampering their logic or placing the chips under stress to generate erroneous outputs to infer sensitive data. The current protections against such attacks do not consider the aging of the devices that can cause a parametric shift of device parameters over time which can compromise device security.

Supported by this five-year award, Professor Karimi and her students will investigate the effects of device aging on the security of cryptographic devices, particularly those with protection against physical attacks, and develop solutions to ensure security when device aging comes into account. Her work will help enable the development of long-lasting security for trusted hardware platforms, and result in aging-resistant security solutions that benefit the society via devices that remain secure over their lifetime.

UMBC Cyber Dawgs win 15th Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

 

UMBC Cyber Dawgs place first in
15th Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

 

Congratulations to the UMBC Cyber Dawgs for winning the 15th Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (MACCDC) which was held this Friday and Saturday. UMBC placed first in a field of teams from eight Universities who made the regional finals out of an initial set of 27 qualifying teams. By winning the regional competition, UMBC will represent the Mid-Atlantic states in the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition to be held on May 22-24, 2020.

The MACCDC has been held annually since 2006. Each year, it develops a new realistic challenge using the latest technologies currently in use. This year’s scenario involves student teams working for a fictitious Artificially Intelligent Institute (AII), a multinational corporation with offices in the Mid-Atlantic region. It was described as follows.

“As a leading provider of advanced AI surveillance tools to intelligence and law enforcement agencies, as well as private-sector organizations, the main business driver of AII is to show how new surveillance capabilities are transforming government’s and organization’s monitoring capabilities. As part of their duties, Blue Teams are expected to defend their systems against aggressors. Early intelligence reports suggest that rouge Hackistanian antagonist are interested in stealing AII’s intellectual property, source code, and customer database. Hackers contracted and working directly for the country of Hackistan are also interested in disrupting IoT devices on-premises at the various AII regional offices.”

The MACCDC team was chosen from members of the CyberDawgs student group, composed of students from a variety of majors who share a common interest in computer and network security. No prior experience is required to join and any UMBC students who want to learn more about cybersecurity and learn new skills in the field are encouraged to subscribe to its mailing list and attend meetings.

The CyberDawgs group is advised by CSEE faculty Charles Nicholas and Richard Forno.

Online Talks Double Feature: Blockchain and Network Defense, 12-2 Fri 3/27, UMBC

UMBC will hold a double feature with two online security-oriented talks from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm EDT on Friday, March 27. Both talks will be shared via Webex.





From 1:00-2:00 pm, Professor Dr. John Mitchell of Stanford University will give a Lockheed Martin Distinguished lecture on “Will Blockchain Change Everything“. Join the presentation online at 1:00 pm EDT at https://umbc.webex.com/meet/joshi.

Far from serving only as a foundation for cryptocurrency, blockchain technology provides a general framework for trusted distributed ledgers. Over the past few years, their popularity has grown tremendously, as shown by the number of companies and efforts associated with the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project, for example. From a technical standpoint, a blockchain combines a storage layer, networking protocols, a consensus layer, and a programmable transaction layer, leveraging cryptographic operations. The distributed state machine paradigm provides atomicity and transaction rollback, while consensus supports distributed availability as well as certain forms of fair access. From an applications perspective, blockchains appeal to distributed networks of independent agents, as arise in supply chain, credentialing, and decentralized financial services. The talk will look at the potential for radical change as well as specific technical challenges associated with verifiable consensus protocols and trustworthy smart contracts.





From 12:00-1:00 pm EDT Col. Dan Yaroslaski, a former operations officer at the Marine Forces Cyberspace Command will talk on “Hard-Learned Lesson in Defense of a Network“. You can join the presentation online at 12:00 pm at https://umbc.webex.com/meet/sherman.

Often network defenders fail to take into account organizational culture when attempting to provide a secure, reliable, and usable enterprise network. Users and process leaders often fall victim to the false allure of the value of networked systems, without asking the question, “Should this be networked?” Collectively, organizations also forget that networks are a combination of the humans who use the network, the personas we all have to form to gain access to this manmade domain, and the interplay of logical and physical network architecture manifested in geographical locations. The value of some simple military principles—including defense-in-depth, mission focus, redundancy, and resiliency versus efficiency—can help a network defender better advise everyone from the “C Suite” decision-makers to the average network user, on how to have a secure network while accepting reasonable limitations.

Webex talk: John Mitchell: Will Blockchain Change Everything? Fri 3/27 1-2pm

Lockheed Martin Distinguished Speaker Series

Will Blockchain Change Everything?

Dr. John Mitchell
Mary and Gordon Crary Family Professor
Departments of Computer Science & Electrical Engineering
Stanford University

1:00-2:00pm EST, Friday, 27 March 2020
Webex meeting hosted by Anupam Joshi
https://umbc.webex.com/meet/joshi

Far from serving only as a foundation for cryptocurrency, blockchain technology provides a general framework for trusted distributed ledgers. Over the past few years, their popularity has grown tremendously, as shown by the number of companies and efforts associated with the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project, for example. From a technical standpoint, a blockchain combines a storage layer, networking protocols, a consensus layer, and a programmable transaction layer, leveraging cryptographic operations. The distributed state machine paradigm provides atomicity and transaction rollback, while consensus supports distributed availability as well as certain forms of fair access. From an applications perspective, blockchains appeal to distributed networks of independent agents, as arise in supply chain, credentialing, and decentralized financial services. The talk will look at the potential for radical change as well as specific technical challenges associated with verifiable consensus protocols and trustworthy smart contracts.

John Mitchell is the Mary and Gordon Crary Family Professor in the School of Engineering, Professor of Computer Science, co-director of the Stanford Computer Security Lab, and Professor (by courtesy) of Education. He was Vice Provost at Stanford University from 2012 to 2018. Mitchell’s research focusses on programming languages, computer, and network security, privacy, and education. He has published over 200 research papers, served as editor of eleven journals, including Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Computer Security, and written two books. He has led research projects funded by numerous organizations and served as advisor and consultant to successful small and large companies. His first research project in online learning started in 2009 when he and six undergraduate students built Stanford CourseWare, an innovative platform that served as the foundation for initial flipped classroom experiments at Stanford and helped inspire the first massive open online courses (MOOCs) from Stanford. Professor Mitchell currently serves as Chair of the Stanford Department of Computer Science.

Webex Talk: Hard-Learned Lesson in Defense of a Network, 12-1 Fri 3/27

The UMBC Cyber Defense Lab presents

Hard-Learned Lesson in Defense of a Network

Dan Yaroslaski
Former Operations Officer at Marine Forces Cyberspace Command, Colonel, USMC


12–1:00pm, Friday, 27 March 2020
WebEx: https://umbc.webex.com/meet/sherman

Often network defenders fail to take into account organizational culture when attempting to provide a secure, reliable, and usable enterprise network. Users and process leaders often fall victim to the false allure of the value of networked systems, without asking the question, “Should this be networked?” Collectively, organizations also forget that networks are a combination of the humans who use the network, the personas we all have to form to gain access to this manmade domain, and the interplay of logical and physical network architecture manifested in geographical locations. The value of some simple military principles—including defense-in-depth, mission focus, redundancy, and resiliency versus efficiency—can help a network defender better advise everyone from the “C Suite” decision-makers to the average network user, on how to have a secure network while accepting reasonable limitations.

Colonel Dan Yaroslaski is a career Marine with over 30 years of service to the nation. He started as an enlisted anti-armor missileman, who then became an Assault Amphibian Vehicle Officer (AAV’s are 27 Ton armored amphibious descendants of the WW II vehicles used from Tarawa to Iwo Jima). He has made a career of integrating technology and human beings to form cohesive combat organizations. Dan’s diverse career placed him at the forefront of high-end, top-secret compartmentalized planning and execution, to the extremely human act of advising an Afghan National Army Kandak (Battalion). During his five-year tenure at Marine Forces Cyberspace Command, he successfully architected new techniques that took advantage of boundary defenses, to new and innovative ways to integrate traditional warfare methods with cyberspace operations, as highlighted in a recent NPR story about USCYBERCOM’s Operation GLOWING SYMPHONY. Dan also spent time creating effective policy directing network operations and defense, to include an extremely frustrating year negotiating the interplay of network operations, operations in the information environment, and Marine Corps culture. Dan and his wife are now empty nesters, so they spend an enormous amount of time nurturing two dogs to fill the void left by their children. As the Rolling Stones point out, “What a drag it is getting old.”

Host: Alan T. Sherman,

Support for this event was provided in part by the National Science Foundation under SFS grant DGE-1753681. The UMBC Cyber Defense Lab meets biweekly Fridays. All meetings are open to the public. Upcoming CDL Meetings:

  • Apr 10, Russ Fink (APL), ransomware
  • Apr 24, Lance Hoffman (GWU), policy
  • May 8, Jason Wells (UMBC SFS scholar), law enforcement
  • May 22, Spring SFS Meeting at UMBC, 9:30am-2pm, ITE 456

talk: Autonomous Agents, Deep Learning, and Graphs for Cyber Defense, 12-1 Fri. 3/13

The UMBC Cyber Defense Lab presents

Autonomous Agents, Deep Learning,
and Graphs for Cyber Defense

Dr. Hasan Cam
Army Research Laboratory

12–1 pm Friday, 13 March 2020, ITE 227, UMBC


Cyber resilience usually refers to the ability of an entity to detect, respond to, and recover from cybersecurity attacks to the extent that the entity can continuously deliver the intended outcome despite their presence. Cybersecurity tools such as intrusion detection and prevention systems usually generate far too many alerts, indicators or log data, many of which do not have obvious security implications unless their correlations and temporal causality relationships are determined. In this talk, I will present methods to first estimate the infected and exploited assets and then take recovery and preventive actions using autonomous agents, deep learning, and graphs. Autonomous adversary and defender agents are designed such that the adversary agent can infer the adversary activities and intentions, based on cybersecurity observations and measurements, while the defender agent aims at estimating the best reactive and pro-active actions to protect assets and mitigate the adversary activities. The graph thinking and causality analysis of cyber infection and exploitation helps predict the infection states of some assets. This prediction data of infections is taken as input data by deep reinforcement learning to train agents for determining effective actions. This talk will discuss some preliminary results from the development of building an automated system of autonomous agents to provide cyber resiliency over networks.

Hasan Cam is a Computer Scientist at US Army Research Laboratory. He currently works on the projects involved with autonomous agents, active malware defense, cyber resiliency, and risk assessment over wired, mobile, and tactical networks. His research interests include cybersecurity, machine learning, data analytics, networks, algorithms, and parallel processing. He served as the government lead for the Risk area in Cyber Collaborative Research Alliance. He has previously worked as a faculty member in academia and a senior research scientist in the industry. He has served as an editorial member of two journals, a guest editor of two special issues of journals, an organizer of symposiums and workshops, and a Technical Program Committee Member in numerous conferences. He received a Ph.D. degree in electrical and computer engineering from Purdue University, and an M.S. degree in computer science from Polytechnic University, New York. He is a Senior Member of IEEE.

Host: Alan T. Sherman,

Support for this event was provided in part by the National Science Foundation under SFS grant DGE-1753681. The UMBC Cyber Defense Lab meets biweekly Fridays. All meetings are open to the public. Upcoming CDL Meetings:

  • Mar 27, Dan Yaroslaski, cybercommand
  • Apr 10, Russ Fink (APL), ransomware
  • Apr 24, Lance Hoffman (GWU), policy
  • May 8, Jason Wells, law enforcement
  • May 22, Spring SFS Meeting at UMBC, 9:30-2, ITE 456
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