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News | June 4, 2024

NSA and Universities Partnering to Advance Cybersecurity Research

NSA Research invited leading university research institutions across the country to the National Cryptologic Museum for a day-long event to tackle the ongoing challenge of securing critical cyber systems.
The Laboratory for Advanced Cybersecurity Research sponsored the Science of Security (SoS) Virtual Institute (VI) kick-off meeting earlier this year. It was aimed at advancing foundational research in three key areas: Trusted Systems, Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity, and Defensive Mechanisms.
These three VIs facilitate collaboration of industry and academic communities with NSA research liaisons, and align with the Research Directorate’s mission to anticipate technological advances, prevent disruptive technology surprise, and partner to transition research into operational outcomes, according to Dr. Rita Bush, chief of the Laboratory for Advanced Cybersecurity Research.
Bush provided opening remarks and expressed her admiration of the SoS partnerships with academia.
“I am truly honored to welcome the university researchers to our latest version of the Science of Security program. SoS has a long history of sponsoring innovative unclassified research at great universities,” Bush said. “I’m so pleased that we’ve been able to continue this program, and introduce a new generation of students to the kinds of cybersecurity challenges that we face in protecting National Security Systems.”
In 2012, the Research Directorate began funding academic "lablets" focused on the development of a broad, self-sustaining community effort to advance the science of security. The lablets were small multi-disciplinary labs at universities across the country that perform cybersecurity, to underpin advances in cyber defense.
“Building these relationships is so important because the foundational research and results of the projects will help drive improvements in cybersecurity,” SoS Program Manager Shavon D. said. “The students at these institutions are working on hard research problems that align with our Agency’s strategic goals and with the interests of the Government as a whole.”
This year, lablets were replaced by VIs, a new model that will continue in the spirit of foundational research they established while also allowing projects to be added or retired as the knowledge in various topic areas advances.
Research advancements from each VI will be extensively documented and widely distributed through the SoS Virtual Organization (SoS VO), an online unclassified repository for SoS community awareness, directed toward the maturing of the scientific basis for security.
This year, the SoS team hosted principal investigators (school representatives) from Arizona State University, the International Computer Science Institute, University of Kansas, Ohio State University, Towson University, and Vanderbilt University. Their presentations addressed wide-ranging technical topics from the VIs including “Improving Safety and Security of Neural Networks” (AI and Cybersecurity), “Advancing Security and Privacy of Bluetooth IoT” (Trusted Systems), and “Neurosymbolic Autonomous Agents for Cyber-Defense” (Defensive Mechanisms.) There are currently 11 funded VI projects this year, including projects with Carnegie Mellon University, which was awarded a contract after the kickoff meeting.
“Our research universities are a national treasure, and I want you to be aware of the impact of your work and the work of Science of Security,” said Dr. Glenn L., Acting Technical Director, Laboratory for Cybersecurity Research, during his closing remarks.
Glenn shared how one of the sections in the White House’s Office of Science, Technology, and Policy 4-year Cybersecurity R&D Strategy was influenced by a Science of Security project out-brief. “Your work can have outsized impact; impact in ways that we didn’t initially imagine, informing a broad range of cybersecurity research.”
For more information about the SoS initiative and to view this year’s SoS-VI projects, please visit

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