Nearly One Million Dollar Award to Support New Data Security Project
Morgan State University announced today a $999,450 research grant awarded to a research team led by Dr. Kevin T. Kornegay by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The HBCU Research Infrastructure for Science and Engineering (RISE) award will be used to fund the Morgan team’s “Embedded System Security via Reverse Engineering and Countermeasures” project – an initiative addressing security and data integrity issues that can threaten processing systems embedded in every electronic device. These are systems such as the smart gas or electric meters in your home or electronic gaming consoles that, together, make up what is called the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT).
The research team will use reverse engineering techniques to unveil potential hardware security gaps that may be present in an IoT device, and develop countermeasures to prevent access of confidential information and ensure functional operation during a cyber attack. Current protection solutions only address IoT security at the application, transport, or data link layer of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, leaving vulnerable attack points at the physical layer where the vast majority of the IoT devices reside. The solution provided by Dr. Kornegay’s team will allow for the formation of a security perimeter at a device’s physical boundary making it less susceptible to an external breach.
“As the IoT continues to evolve, the number of ‘things’ and the upstream of data associated with them continues to present new security challenges,” says Dr. Kornegay. “The research that we are undertaking will make the devices we have come to depend upon as well as new technology being introduced into the marketplace safer when it comes to transferring data over a network.” It is estimated that the IoT will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020.
Dr. Kornegay, whose background and research interests include radio frequency and millimeter wave integrated circuit design, high-speed circuits, broadband wired and wireless communication systems, and cyber-physical systems, is a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at Morgan State University’s Mitchell School of Engineering. The other members of his research team include Drs. Kemi Ladeji-Osias, Kofi Nyarko, Michel Reece, and Willie Thompson, who are engineering research faculty at the University.
“This NSF award enables Morgan to explore a unique aspect of cybersecurity research examining physical characteristics to detect security concerns,” says Dr. Victor McCrary, Morgan’s vice president for research and economic development. “From a broader perspective what this means for the university is new course development, student training, outreach and development of an embedded systems security certificate program.”
NSF’s HBCU-RISE awards support the development of research capability at Historically Black Colleges and Universities offering doctoral degrees in science and engineering disciplines. Supported projects must have a unifying research focus in one of the research areas supported by NSF, a direct connection to the long-term plans of the host department(s) and the institutional mission, and plans for expanding institutional research capacity as well as increasing the production of doctoral students, especially those underrepresented in STEM.
Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie classified doctoral research institution offering more than 60 academic programs leading to bachelor’s degrees as well as programs at the master’s and doctoral levels. As Maryland’s public urban university, Morgan serves a multi-ethnic and multi-racial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information on Morgan State University, visit www.morgan.edu.
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Dr. Victor R. McCrary