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The Latest Research in Software Engineering and Cybersecurity

Researchers on the CERT Division's insider threat team have presented several of the 26 patterns identified by analyzing our insider threat database, which is based on examinations of more than 700 insider threat cases and interviews with the United States Secret Service, victims' organizations, and convicted felons. Through our analysis, we identified more than 100 categories of weaknesses in systems, processes, people, or technologies that allowed insider threats to occur. One aspect of our research focuses on identifying enterprise architecture patterns that organizations can use to protect their systems from malicious insider threat. Now that we've developed 26 patterns, our next priority is to assemble these patterns into a pattern language that organizations can use to bolster their resources and make them more resilient against insider threats. This blog post is the third installment in a seriesthat describes our research to create and validate an insider threat mitigation pattern language to help organizations balance the cost of security controls with the risk of insider compromise.

In 2012, Symantec blocked more than 5.5 billion malware attacks (an 81 percent increase over 2010) and reported a 41 percent increase in new variants of malware, according to January 2013 Computer World article. To prevent detection and delay analysis, malware authors often obfuscate their malicious programs with anti-analysis measures. Obfuscated binary code prevents analysts from developing timely, actionable insights by increasing code complexity and reducing the effectiveness of existing tools. This blog post describes research we are conducting at the SEI to improve manual and automated analysis of common code obfuscation techniquesused in malware.

When life- and safety-critical systems fail, the results can be dire, including loss of property and life. These types of systems are increasingly prevalent, and can be found in the altitude and control systems of a satellite, the software-reliant systems of a car (such as its cruise control and GPS), or a medical device. When developing such systems, software and systems architects must balance the need for stability and safety with stakeholder demands and time-to-market constraints. The Architectural Analysis & Design Language (AADL) helps software and system architects address the challenges of designing life- and safety-critical systems by providing a modeling notation that employs textual and graphic representations. This blog posting, part of an ongoing series on AADL, describes how AADL is being used in medical devices and highlights the experiences of a practitioner whose research aims to address problems with medical infusion pumps.

Soldiers and emergency workers who carry smartphones in the battlefield, or into disaster recovery sites (such as Boston following the marathon bombing earlier this year) often encounter environments characterized by high mobility, rapidly-changing mission requirements, limited computing resources, high levels of stress, and limited network connectivity. At the SEI, we refer to these situations as "edge environments." Along with my colleagues in the SEI's Advanced Mobile Systems Initiative, my research aims to increase the computing power of mobile devices in edge environments where resources are scarce. One area of my work has focused on leveraging cloud computing so users can extend the capabilities of their mobile devices by offloading expensive computations to more powerful computing resources in a cloud. Some drawbacks to offloading computation to the cloud in resource-constrained environments remain, however, including latency (which can be exacerbated by the distance between mobile devices and clouds) and limited internet access (which makes traditional cloud computing unfeasible). This blog post is the latest in a seriesthat describes research aimed at exploring the applicability of application virtualization as a strategy for cyber-foraging in resource-constrained environments.

As part of an ongoing effort to keep you informed about our latest work, I would like to let you know about some recently published SEI technical reports and notes. These reports highlight the latest work of SEI technologists in acquisition, socio-adaptive systems, application virtualization, insider threat, software assurance, and the Personal Software Process (PSP). This post includes a listing of each report, author(s), and links where the published reports can be accessed on the SEI website.

Risk inherent in any military, government, or industry network system cannot be completely eliminated, but it can be reduced by implementing certain network controls. These controls include administrative, management, technical, or legal methods. Decisions about what controls to implement often rely on computed-risk models that mathematically calculate the amount of risk inherent in a given network configuration. These computed-risk models, however, may not calculate risk levels that human decision makers actually perceive.

I recently joined the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute (SEI) as deputy director and chief technology officer (CTO). My goal in this new role is to help the SEI advance computer science, software engineering, cybersecurity, and related disciplines to help ensure that the acquisition, development, and operation of software-dependent systems have lower cost, higher quality, and better security. I have spent the past two decades conducting a range of research and development activities, and I have served on various Department of Defense (DoD) advisory boards. In this blog posting, I'd like to talk a little bit about my background and outline the priorities I'm pursuing at the SEI. In subsequent blog postings, I'll describe the SEI technical strategy in more detail.