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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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U Helps Defend Against U.S. Cyber Attacks

(Photo Courtesy of U of U College Engineering)
(Photo Courtesy of U of U College Engineering)
(Photo Courtesy of U of U College Engineering)
(Photo Courtesy of U of U College Engineering)

As weapon technology advances each year, the United States Department of Defense must prepare to face the next generation of attacks — and it’s not from guns. Rather, it’s over the Internet.

For the past 20 years, cyber attacks have steadily increased and pose a serious threat to the U.S. For that reason, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is funding research on these attacks at 10 universities, including the U. Matt Might, professor in the U’s School of Computing, said the agency gave the university $3 million for this.

Cyber attacks occur when someone deliberately infiltrates a computer network or system, gaining access to information such as plans for the military or combat data.

“Anything that you can imagine that has a benefit to an enemy on the battlefield is getting stolen,” Might said.

He also said cyber attacks cost the U.S. half a trillion dollars each year. Countries like China and Russia can cause massive economic harm to the U.S.

“If we don’t anticipate the next generation of attacks now then that problem will continue to get worse,” Might said. “We have to stay ahead.”

Suresh Venkatasubramanian, another professor in the U’s School of Computing, is also working on the team researching cyber attacks with Might.

The 10 universities looking into the security problem are divided into teams, with some creating software hacking programs and others trying to resist the attacks. The groups will work for four years on the issue and continue to receive more funding as long as they’re still developing potential solutions.

“An attack is not just an attack on code; it’s a murder weapon,” he said.

While Venkatasubramanian has seen a growth in cyber attacks, he said this research initiative is nothing sudden or desperate from the U.S. Department of Defense.

“It’s an ongoing battle — the arms race against the attackers,” he said.

Since the rise of the Internet, people have worried about cyber attacks, and academic institutions are often utilized to solve similar problems. What makes the U stand out are its strengths in algorithm analysis and expertise in machines.

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