UNT professor brings home more than $1 million in cybersecurity research grants

Thursday, October 4, 2018 - 09:44
Hassan Takabi
Hassan Takabi

University of North TexasCollege of Engineering Assistant Professor Hassan Takabi recently received more than $1 million in grants from the National Science Foundation.

The first grant is for $515,974 and will be spent developing a computer defense against malicious insiders who leverage basic computer access into unauthorized computer entry.

“If a person from inside a system tries to access data they shouldn’t, we are going to put false paths and fake information in their way,” said Takabi, a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. “Most computer systems have some form of access control; a program that allows different users to have different levels of access. Oftentimes, low level users will try to bypass the access control system to view, and sometimes steal, higher level information. That is where we come in.”

Takabi is designing his system to supplement access control systems. It won’t just lead malicious users to fake files; it will also allow them to be traced to their point of origin. Insider threats can then be identified and their access restricted.

The second grant is for $499,581 and will be used to develop a set of instructional modules and hands-on lab exercises that will merge the study of data science and analytics with cybersecurity.

“Traditionally, students studying data analytics don’t cross over into cybersecurity and vice versa. Yet, with companies compiling massive amounts of data, think Facebook and Google, there is a need for cybersecurity experts who are also skilled in data analytics. Someone with this integrated knowledge will be better able to understand the dynamics of data science and how it can help protect organizations’ resources in today’s data-driven world.”

This grant is in collaboration with Eduardo Blanco, also a faculty member in the UNT Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

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