(L – R) Dr. Thomas Morris, CCRE Director and Eminent Scholar of Computer Engineering, and Dr. Patrick Pape, CCRE Principal Research Engineer (Michael Mercier | UAH)
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (Nov 8, 2021) – To meet the need for specialized resources to combat growing cybersecurity threats, the Center for Cybersecurity Research and Education (CCRE) at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a part of The University of Alabama System, has established a new Cybersecurity Operations Research Endeavor (CORE) Lab. UAH invested $200K in research startup funds to attract Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in malware analysis and UAH CCRE is building a team around that expertise. This lab provides new capabilities and expertise in malware analysis for the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Defense Industrial Base.
“The concept was developed in late 2020, and a CORE Lab Plan was developed and approved with the UAH Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic in early 2021,” says Dr. Thomas Morris, Director of the Center for Cybersecurity Research and Education, Eminent Scholar of Computer Engineering and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “In today’s environment, cyber ‘bad actors’ have ratcheted up the attacks on our nation’s critical infrastructure; therefore, the CORE Lab’s expertise and capabilities address these attacks.”
The new CORE Lab addresses urgent Army and DoD requirements to improve the current capability to assess and evaluate malicious tools facilitating cyber-attacks against government, as well as private, critical national infrastructure. Since the establishment of the CORE Lab, the team has provided malware analysis research and tool development in support of the Threat Systems Management office (TSMO) acquisition cyber threat assessment mission.
“Our government and industry customers have a growing need for new capabilities to perform robust and accurate malware analysis,” explains Dr. Patrick Pape, CORE Lab SME and Principal Research Engineer. “The CORE Lab provides the capability to assess and evaluate malware in a cyber-relevant timeframe. The evaluations are used to inform analysts and intelligent models to aid in decision making when handling a potentially malicious event.”
In the last year, the CORE Lab has expanded their customer base to include support for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) and the U.S. Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC). The CORE Lab team has written numerous proposals to potential future customers and hopes to continue this positive growth. These new proposals expand the CORE Lab into new topic areas, such as machine learning and researching malware that operate on various specific embedded systems.
The CORE Lab also provides supporting capabilities to various customers of the CCRE ranging from the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other nationwide agencies and commands.
“The CORE Lab is a technical and cutting-edge organization that prioritizes the needs of our customers,” notes Dr. Kyle Murbach, CORE Lab SME and Principal Research Engineer. “We are continuously engaged in technical exchanges where we ask our Army, DoD and industry customers about their evolving requirements and needs. The CORE Lab’s team pride themselves in being a skilled and adaptable group of researchers.”
Sharon Johnson serves as the Founding Director of the CORE Lab. Johnson is the creator of the Cyber Force Incubator (CFI) – a capability that creates an employment pipeline for students pursuing cybersecurity careers – and is also the Deputy Director of the CCRE. She continues to identify opportunities for the CORE Lab with the goal of having a long-lasting impact on the ever-changing field of cybersecurity research.
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