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The grant awarded by the National Security Agency will support the team’s research project on developing a novel malware detection system that uses autonomic methods for cybersecurity analysts. | Image: Getty Images

The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (located within the National Security Agency) has awarded a grant (H98230-22-1-0234) to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University and the Texas A&M Cybersecurity Center. The funds will support a research project focused on automating risk detection and mitigation in cybersecurity systems.

The project is led by Dr. Drew Hamilton and Dr. Nitesh Saxena, professors in the department, and Chris Lanclos and Kohler Smallwood, research engineers at the Texas A&M Cybersecurity Center.

“Automated risk detection and mitigation is the future of cybersecurity for many different systems, but extensive research must be done to address the challenges in developing autonomic systems,” said Hamilton.

The research will focus on developing a novel malware detection system for cybersecurity analysts that uses autonomic methods based on the latest advancements in machine-learning and deep-learning techniques. 

Current automated systems typically only respond to specific events with predetermined responses. In contrast, autonomic systems can determine whether an action plan is needed and formulate a logical answer for a potential malware threat based on the essential information it gathers during each step of its management cycle. With the number of automated cyber-attacks increasing rapidly, autonomic computer system defenses need to promptly respond and defend against malicious software.

“This research addresses multiple areas of interest in the autonomic security research community and explores additional ways to detect malware with cutting-edge artificial intelligence techniques,” said Saxena.

As one of only nine universities in the nation to be designated a Center of Academic Excellence in cyber operations, cyber research and cyber defense education, this work contributes to the university’s overall vision of leadership and excellence in cybersecurity.