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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Awardee:MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY
Doing Business As Name:Mississippi State University
PD/PI:
  • Sudip Mittal
  • (832) 384-5845
  • mittal@cse.msstate.edu
Award Date:06/03/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 105,790
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 105,566
  • FY 2020=$105,566
Start Date:06/15/2021
End Date:07/31/2023
Transaction Type:Grant
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.076
Primary Program Source:040106 NSF Education & Human Resource
Award Title or Description:Collaborative Research: SaTC: EDU: Artificial Intelligence Assisted Malware Analysis
Federal Award ID Number:2133190
DUNS ID:075461814
Parent DUNS ID:075461814
Program:Secure &Trustworthy Cyberspace
Program Officer:
  • Nigamanth Sridhar
  • (703) 292-7294
  • nsridhar@nsf.gov

Awardee Location

Street:PO Box 6156
City:MISSISSIPPI STATE
State:MS
ZIP:39762-9662
County:Mississippi State
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:03

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Mississippi State University
Street:129 Etheredge Hall 449 Hardy Road
City:Mississippi State
State:MS
ZIP:39762-6156
County:Mississippi State
Country:US
Cong. District:03

Abstract at Time of Award

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to solve cybersecurity problems has been gaining traction within industry and academia, in part as a response to widespread malware attacks on critical systems, such as cloud infrastructures, government offices or hospitals, and the vast amounts of data they generate. AI- and ML-assisted cybersecurity offers data-driven automation that could enable security systems to identify and respond to cyber threats in real time. However, there is currently a shortfall of professionals trained in AI and ML for cybersecurity. This project will address the shortfall by developing lab-intensive modules that enable undergraduate and graduate students to gain fundamental and advanced knowledge in applying AI and ML techniques to real-world datasets to learn about Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI), malware analysis, and classification, among other important topics in cybersecurity. The proposed project will impact more than 400 students annually and is uniquely poised to provide opportunities to a diverse student population. Tennessee Technical University and University of North Carolina Wilmington are located in economically challenged regions. Manhattan College has a student population that is 31% minority (20% Hispanic) and 33% first generation college students. In addition, this project proposes to increase participation of underrepresented groups in STEM by conducting workshops and participating in professional conferences, such as The Women in Cybersecurity Conference, Community College Cyber Summit, and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. Providing undergraduate and graduate students with training in the use of AI in malware analysis is an important step towards bridging the current cybersecurity talent gap. The project will develop six self-contained and adaptive modules in "AI-assisted Malware Analysis." Topics will include: (1) CTI and malware attack stages, (2) malware knowledge representation and CTI sharing, (3) malware data collection and feature identification, (4) AI-assisted malware detection, (5) malware classification and attribution, and (6) advanced malware research topics and case studies such as adversarial learning and Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) detection. The course modules will be evaluated and assessed to determine their impact on students. Workshops and tutorial sessions at conferences will be used to expand the project’s impact and provide students and enthusiasts with hands-on experience of aspects of AI-assisted malware analysis using real-world datasets. A two-day training workshop for external faculty will also be arranged to enable further dissemination of the modules. The suite of activities proposed in this project will train students, researchers, and professionals in AI-assisted malware analysis and prepare them to meet future cybersecurity challenges. This project is supported by the Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program, which funds proposals that address cybersecurity and privacy, and in this case specifically cybersecurity education. The SaTC program aligns with the Federal Cybersecurity Research and Development Strategic Plan and the National Privacy Research Strategy to protect and preserve the growing social and economic benefits of cyber systems while ensuring security and privacy. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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