What's Next in Cybersecurity?

December 18, 2014 By: Robert Perkins

Two researchers from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Information Sciences Institute will be among the headliners at a federal cybersecurity showcase in Washington, D.C., this week.

Terry Benzel and John Heidemann will present cybersecurity technology developed at ISI to more than 500 industry and government leaders at a three-day workshop hosted by the Department of Homeland Security.

“The DHS Cybersecurity Division 2014 R&D Showcase and Technical Workshop provides a venue to exchange ideas with colleagues in the research community and connect with technology transition partners,” said Benzel, deputy director of the cybernetworks and cybersecurity division of ISI.

Benzel will demonstrate the use of the cyber Defense Technology Experimental Research Project (DETER), an advanced Internet testbed of 500 connected computers that acts as a sort of mini-Internet, allowing students and researchers to develop ways to thwart cyberattacks in a safe but realistic environment.

“DETER emulates real-world complexity and scale necessary to evolve next-generation solutions to help protect against sophisticated cyberattacks and network design vulnerabilities,” Benzel said.

DETER offers researchers an invaluable tool for testing the latest advances in cybersecurity, offering the next generation of cybersecurity experts with hands-on training. It is already used by 4,000 different students and researchers at hundreds of institutions.

Heidemann, a research professor at ISI, will discuss his team’s work on detecting network outages. Over the last year, Heidemann’s team has been evaluating Internet outages, pinging 4 million network blocks every 11 minutes to see how the Internet responds to problems such as Hurricane Sandy, which doubled the outage rate in U.S. networks and took roughly four days of recovery.

“We started this work expecting to see how problems at Internet service providers result in network problems that affect people using the Internet,” said Heidemann, “but what is most interesting is that the Internet is a mirror on our physical and human world — we are able to see the effects of Hurricane Sandy and the Egyptian revolution.”

Heidemann’s recent work has also explored the way the Internet “sleeps” in some places but not others.

Established in 1972, ISI has played a major role in the Internet since its inception, helping to develop the standard communication protocols used across the Internet.

Now boasting more than 300 employees, ISI remains a leader in the field of Internet research and cybersecurity.