Ann Cox studied mathematics at Brigham Young University (BYU) where she would later teach. She would go on to receive her PhD from Auburn University and work with the National Security Agency. Now, she is a program manager for the Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Security Division.
The program she oversees is the Internet Measurement and Attack Modeling. According to the Division’s web page, the program addresses the need to improve cohesion among Internet Service Providers.
“Associated data analysis, such as geographic mapping, will improve the understanding of peering relationships and thus provide a more complete view of network topology, which will help to identify the infrastructure components in greatest need of protection. In conjunction with this work, research in attack modeling will allow critical infrastructure owners/operators to predict the effects of cyber attacks on their systems, particularly in the areas of malware and botnet attacks, …and situational understanding and attack attribution,” the web page reads.
Interestingly, one of the partners in the program, is Cox’s alma mater, BYU. Located in Utah, about an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City, BYU is a private institution run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
But Cox is just one of thirteen program managers for the Division, many of whom have also received their PhDs.
So what are these academicians-turned-government employees up to? How are they helping to improve the security of the internet?
What is the purpose of the Division?
We know that threats to cyber security is a very real and common. In fact, 86% of the companies that come to Trust Guard for cyber security protection fail their first vulnerability scan. Every day, Trust Guard deals with companies that come to them after their websites have been hacked or compromised.
In a nutshell, the division is tasked with preventing and investigating such attacks. Much of prevention comes from research and here is where the former researcher-professors feel at home.
According to the web page, the Division’s “mission is to contribute to enhancing the security and resilience of the nation’s critical information infrastructure and the Internet. This is done by (1) developing and delivering new technologies, tools and techniques to enable DHS and the U.S. to defend, mitigate and secure current and future systems, networks and infrastructure against cyber attacks, (2) conducting and supporting technology transition, and (3) leading and coordinating research and development (R&D) among the R&D community which includes department customers, government agencies, the private sector and international partners.”
Essentially, this Division combines research from the private and public sector in order to provide the American people with a safer cyberspace. That includes using the internet from our smartphones.
According to a recent news release, the Division recently awarded five app companies $8.6 million to aid in security efforts.
“Each group has proposed and will develop innovative secure solutions that will greatly improve the enterprise security of mobile devices and apps connected to back end systems,” said Vincent Sritapan, one of the thirteen program managers. “Through these and future projects, the Mobile Application Security R&D project will ensure mobile apps are secure no matter whether they are developed by the enterprise or acquired from third-party app markets.”
To learn more about the Cyber Security Division, visit: https://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/cyber-security-division.