Monday, June 14, 2021

Trusted CI webinar: Investigating Secure Development In Practice: A Human-Centered Perspective Mon June 28th @1pm Eastern

University of Maryland's Michelle Mazurek, is presenting the talk,
Investigating Secure Development In Practice: A Human-Centered Perspective,
on Monday June 28th at 1pm (Eastern).

Please register here. Be sure to check spam/junk folder for registration confirmation email.

Secure development is not just a technical problem: it’s a human and organizational problem as well. To understand the causes of insecurity, and find effective solutions, we must understand how and why security problems happen, and what barriers stand in the way of fixing them. How can we make it easier for developers to write secure code, even without special training? In this talk, I will report on findings from several recent studies addressing these questions. These include examining the effects of information resources and API design on developers' likelihood of writing secure code; using data from a secure programming contest to explore the kinds of security mistakes developers make; and exploring the benefits and barriers associated with adoption of a secure programming language.

Speaker Bio

Michelle Mazurek is an Associate Professor in the Computer Science Department and the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she also directs the Maryland Cybersecurity Center. Her research aims to understand and improve the human elements of security- and privacy-related decision making. Recent projects include examining how and why developers make security and privacy mistakes; investigating the vulnerability-discovery process; evaluating the use of threat-modeling in large-scale organizations; and analyzing how users learn about and decide whether to adopt security advice. Her work has been recognized with an NSA Best Scientific Cybersecurity Paper award and three USENIX Security Distinguished Paper awards. She was Program Chair for the Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS) for 2019 and 2020 and is Program Chair for the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium (PETS) for 2022 and 2023. 

Join Trusted CI's announcements mailing list for information about upcoming events. To submit topics or requests to present, see our call for presentations. Archived presentations are available on our site under "Past Events."

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Thank you and congratulations to Dana Brunson!

Dana Brunson joined Trusted CI in 2019 as a co-PI and was instrumental in developing and leading Trusted CI’s very successful Fellows program. Her proposal to create a Center of Excellence in workforce development was recently awarded. As a result, she is stepping away from Trusted CI to focus on her role as PI for the new Center of Excellence.

We wish Dana the best of luck with her new Center of Excellence and look forward to identifying opportunities to continue to collaborate.


Trusted CI PI and Director

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Trusted CI Materials as the Foundation for a University Course at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Software security is important to the NSF community because it is critical to their support of science. For example, Trusted CI’s Community Benchmarking Survey consistently finds the overwhelming majority of NSF projects and Large Facilities develop software and also adopts both open source and commercial software, whose quality they assess as part of a cybersecurity risk management.  Trusted CI recognises the importance of this issue and has focused the TrustedCI 2021 Annual Challenge on software assurance.

Trusted CI has been developing training materials to teach secure software design and implementation. These materials have been used at conferences, workshops, and government agencies to train CI professionals in secure coding, design, and testing. More recently, they were used at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to develop a new course on software security.  The new course, CS542, Introduction to Software Security (, is part of the computer science curriculum at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  The teaching materials support a blended (flipped) model. Lectures are based on video modules and corresponding text chapters, and the classroom time was used for collaborative exercises and discussions. The videos and text are supplemented by hands-on exercises for each module delivered in virtual machines. The online nature of these materials proved themselves to be of even greater value during the remote learning situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This new course covers security throughout the various stages of the software development life cycle (SDLC), including secure design, secure coding, and testing and evaluation for security.

These teaching materials are freely available at

Some of the comments from the students at the end of the last class of the Spring 2021 course, taken from the chat window, include:

“Thank you for such an enlightening course! I had a lot of fun!”
“Thank you for a very insightful and interesting course.”
“Thanks for the semester! This class was very interesting and manageable I appreciate it”
“Is this only taught in the Spring? I'd like to recommend the class to some of my CS friends.”
300 students have benefitted from this course at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Don't Miss Trusted CI at EDUCAUSE CPP Conference

Members of Trusted CI and partner projects will be presenting at the The 2021 EDUCAUSE Cybersecurity and Privacy Professionals Conference (formerly known as the Security Professionals Conference), to be held Tuesday June 8th - Thursday June 10th. The conference "will focus on restoring, evolving, and transforming cybersecurity and privacy in higher education."

Below is a list of presentations that include Trusted CI team members and partners:

Regulated Research Community Workshops

Tuesday, June 08 | 12:15p.m. - 12:35p.m. ET

  • Anurag Shankar - Senior Security Analyst, Indiana University
  • Erik Deumens - Director UF Research Computing, University of Florida
  • Carolyn Ellis - Program Manager, Purdue University
  • Jay Gallman - Security IT Analyst, Duke University
Supporting institutional regulated research comes with a wide range of challenges impacting units that haven't commonly worked together. Until recently, most institutions have looked internally to develop their regulated research programs. Since November 2020, 30 institutions have been gathering for six workshops to share their experience and challenges working establishing regulated research programs. This session will share the process involved in making these workshops successful and initial findings of this very specialized group.

Big Security on Small Budgets: Stories from Building a Fractional CISO Program

Thursday, June 10 | 2:00p.m. - 2:45p.m. ET

  • Susan Sons - Chief Security Analyst, Indiana University Bloomington

No one in cybersecurity has an infinite budget. However, those booting up cybersecurity programs in organizations whose leadership haven't fully bought in to the value of cybersecurity operations, bolting security on to an organization that has been operating without it for too long, or leading cybersecurity for a small or medium-sized institution often have even less to work with: smaller budgets, less training, fewer personnel, less of every resource. Meanwhile, the mandate can seem infinite. In this talk, Susan Sons, Deputy Director of ResearchSOC and architect of the fractional CISO programs at ResearchSOC, OmniSOC, and IU's Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, discusses approaches to right-sizing cybersecurity programs and getting the most out of limited resources for small and medium-sized organizations. This talk covers strategies for prioritizing security needs, selecting controls, and using out-of-the-box approaches to reduce costs while ensuring the right things get done. Bring your note pad: we'll refer to a number of outside references and resources you can use as you continue your journey.

SecureMyResearch at Indiana University

Thursday, June 10 | 1:00p.m. - 1:20p.m. ET

  • William Drake - Senior Security Analyst, Indiana University
  • Anurag Shankar - Senior Security Analyst, Indiana University

Cybersecurity in academia has achieved significant success in securing the enterprise and the campus community at large through effective use of technology, governance, and education. It has not been as successful in securing the research mission, however, owing to the diversity of the research enterprise, and of the time and other constraints under which researchers must operate. In 2019, Indiana University began developing a new approach to research cybersecurity based on its long experience in securing biomedical research. This resulted in the launch of SecureMyResearch, a first-of-its-kind service to provide cybersecurity and compliance assistance to researchers and stakeholders who support research. It was created not only to be a commonly available resource on campus but also to act as a crucible to test new ideas that depart from or are beyond enterprise cybersecurity practice. Those include baking security into workflows, use case analysis, risk acceptance, researcher-focused messaging, etc. A year later, we have much to share that is encouraging, including use cases, results, metrics, challenges, and stories that are likely to be of interest to those who are beginning to tackle research cybersecurity. We also will be sharing information and advice on a method of communicating the need for cybersecurity to researchers that proved to be highly successful, and other fresh ideas to take home and leverage on your own campus.

Lessons from a Real-World Ransomware Attack on Research

Thursday, June 10 | 12:25p.m. - 12:45p.m. ET

  • Andrew Adams - Security Manager / CISO, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Von Welch - Director, CACR, Indiana University
  • Tom Siu - CISO, Michigan State University

In this talk, co-presented by the Michigan State University (MSU) Information Security Office and Trusted CI, the NSF Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, we will describe the impact and lessons learned from a real-world ransomware attack on MSU researchers in 2020, and what researchers and information security professionals can do to prevent and mitigate such attacks. Ransomware attackers have expanded their pool of potential victims beyond those with economically valuable data. In the context of higher ed, this insidious development means researchers, who used to be uninteresting to cybercriminals, are now targets. During the first part of the presentation, we will explain the MSU ransomware incident and how it hurt research. During the second part, we will elaborate on mitigation strategies and techniques that could protect current and future academic researchers. Finally, we will conclude with a question-and-answer session in which audience members are encouraged to ask Trusted CI staff about how to engage researchers on information security. Trusted CI has unique expertise in building trust with the research community and in framing the cybersecurity information for them. Trusted CI regularly engages with researchers, rarely security professionals, and has a track record of success in communicating with researchers about cybersecurity risks.

Until We Can't Get It Wrong: Using Security Exercises to Improve Incident Response

Wednesday, June 09 | 2:00p.m. - 2:20p.m. ET

  • Josh Drake - Senior Security Analyst, Indiana University Bloomington
  • Zalak Shah - Senior Security Analyst, Indiana University

Incident response can be challenging at the best of times, and when one is responding to a major incident, it is rarely the best of times. A rigorous program of security exercises is the best way to ensure than any organization is prepared to meet the challenges that may come. The best cybersecurity teams have learned not just to practice until they can get it right, but to practice until they can't get it wrong. They use a regular program of security exercises coupled with pastmortem analysis and follow-up to ensure that the whole team, and all of the technologists and organizational support they work with, get better at handling incidents over time. This session will teach you how to build a security exercise program from the ground up and use it to ensure that your incident response capabilities can be relied on no matter what happens.

Google Drive, the Unknown Unknowns

Wednesday, June 09 | 12:00p.m. - 12:45p.m. ET

  • Ishan Abhinit - Senior Security Analyst, Indiana University Bloomington
  • Mark Krenz - Chief Security Analyst, Indiana University

Every day countless thousands of students and staff around the world use cloud storage systems such as Google Drive to store their data. This data may be classified public, internal, and even confidential or restricted. Although Google Drive provides users with ways to control access to their data, my experiences have shown that users often aren't aware that they are exposing their data beyond their expected trust boundary. In this talk I will briefly introduce the audience to Google Drive, sharing some of my own experiences dealing with security concerns. Then I will provide an overview of the issues that academic and research institutions face when using it. I'll highlight the security threats to your data and how to deal with various situations, such as when someone leaves a project, when data is accidentally deleted, or when data is shared and you don't know it. In the second half of the presentation I'll provide the audience with some solutions to these security issues that are useful to a variety of institutions large and small as well as individual projects and people. Some of these solutions were developed by me and my team to solve our own issues, and so now I'll be sharing these solutions and tools with the community at large.

The full agenda, including the on-demand program, is available online.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Trusted CI webinars now available as a podcast

Want to catch up on the Trusted CI webinar series while you're on the go? Trusted CI is excited to announce the launch of a podcast version of our webinar. You can find us by searching for "Trusted CI podcast" on Apple, Google, Overcast, Luminary, Pocketcasts, and many other podcatchers.

Contact if you have any questions.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Trusted CI webinar: Identifying Vulnerable GitHub Repositories and Users, Mon May 24th @11am Eastern

Indiana University's Sagar Samtani is presenting the talk, Identifying Vulnerable GitHub Repositories in Scientific Cyberinfrastructure: An Artificial Intelligence Approach, on Monday May 24th at 11am (Eastern).

Please register here. Be sure to check spam/junk folder for registration confirmation email.

The scientific cyberinfrastructure community heavily relies on public internet-based systems (e.g., GitHub) to share resources and collaborate. GitHub is one of the most powerful and popular systems for open source collaboration that allows users to share and work on projects in a public space for accelerated development and deployment. Monitoring GitHub for exposed vulnerabilities can save financial cost and prevent misuse and attacks of cyberinfrastructure. Vulnerability scanners that can interface with GitHub directly can be leveraged to conduct such monitoring. This research aims to proactively identify vulnerable communities within scientific cyberinfrastructure. We use social network analysis to construct graphs representing the relationships amongst users and repositories. We leverage prevailing unsupervised graph embedding algorithms to generate graph embeddings that capture the network attributes and nodal features of our repository and user graphs. This enables the clustering of public cyberinfrastructure repositories and users that have similar network attributes and vulnerabilities. Results of this research find that major scientific cyberinfrastructures have vulnerabilities pertaining to secret leakage and insecure coding practices for high-impact genomics research. These results can help organizations address their vulnerable repositories and users in a targeted manner.

Speaker Bio: Dr. Sagar Samtani is an Assistant Professor and Grant Thornton Scholar in the Department of Operations and Decision Technologies at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University (2020 – Present). He is also a Fellow within the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research (CACR) at IU. Samtani graduated with his Ph.D. in May 2018 from the Artificial Intelligence Lab in University of Arizona’s Management Information Systems (MIS) department from the University of Arizona (UArizona). He also earned his MS in MIS and BSBA in 2014 and 2013, respectively, from UArizona. From 2014 – 2017, Samtani served as a National Science Foundation (NSF) Scholarship-for-Service (SFS) Fellow.

Samtani’s research centers around Explainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI) for Cybersecurity and cyber threat intelligence (CTI). Selected recent topics include deep learning, network science, and text mining approaches for smart vulnerability assessment, scientific cyberinfrastructure security, and Dark Web analytics. Samtani has published over two dozen journal and conference papers on these topics in leading venues such as MIS Quarterly, JMIS, ACM TOPS, IEEE IS, Computers and Security, IEEE Security and Privacy, and others. His research has received nearly $1.8M (in PI and Co-PI roles) from the NSF CICI, CRII, and SaTC-EDU programs. 

He also serves as a Program Committee member or Program Chair of leading AI for cybersecurity and CTI conferences and workshops, including IEEE S&P Deep Learning Workshop, USENIX ScAINet, ACM CCS AISec, IEEE ISI, IEEE ICDM, and others. He has also served as a Guest Editor on topics pertaining to AI for Cybersecurity at IEEE TDSC and other leading journals. Samtani has won several awards for his research and teaching efforts, including the ACM SIGMIS Doctoral Dissertation award in 2019. Samtani has received media attention from outlets such as Miami Herald, Fox, Science Magazine, AAAS, and the Penny Hoarder. He is a member of AIS, ACM, IEEE, INFORMS, and INNS.

Join Trusted CI's announcements mailing list for information about upcoming events. To submit topics or requests to present, see our call for presentations. Archived presentations are available on our site under "Past Events."


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Transition to practice success story: Pablo Moriano - technology readiness & understanding critical security issues in large-scale networked systems

Pablo Moriano is a research scientist in the Computer Science and Mathematics Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). He received Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Informatics from Indiana University (IU). Previously, he received M.S. and B.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia.

Moriano’s research lies at the intersection of data science, network science, and cybersecurity. In particular, he develops data-driven and analytical methods to discover and understand critical security issues in large-scale networked systems. He relies on this approach to design and develop innovative solutions to address these. Applications of his research range across multiple disciplines, including the detection of exceptional events in social media, internet route hijacking, and insider threat behavior in version control systems. His research has been published in Computer Networks, Scientific Reports, Computers & Security, Europhysics Letters, and the Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiments as well as the ACM CCS International Workshop on Managing Insider Security Threats.

In the past, he interned at Cisco with the Advanced Security Group. He is a member of IEEE, ACM, and SIAM and has received funding from Cisco Research.

Trusted CI sat down with Moriano to discuss his transition to practice journey, what he has learned, and his experience with the Technology Readiness Level Assessment tool.

Trusted CI: Tell us about your background and your broader research interests.

My background is in electrical engineering.

I was born and grew up in Colombia. I attended Pontificia Universidad Javeriana to pursue a degree in electrical engineering. I remember enjoying so much math-related and physics classes, which are the foundations of electrical engineering. I did pretty well on those topics.

In my engineering classes, at the end of the semester, we had the same kinds of final projects as in the US, called capstones. The idea of these projects was to integrate the learnings from different subjects to solve a real engineering challenge. In these types of activities, you usually measure the impact a technology has on solving a real problem.

In general, I enjoyed going beyond what I learned in classes. I participated in math-related contests, which allowed me to sharpen my analytical skills. By the end of my undergraduate studies, I had a professor that always was encouraging me to try research and go to grad school. I worked under his supervision to complete my undergraduate thesis. In my undergraduate thesis, I developed real-time control algorithms for a non-linear laboratory plant that used magnetic levitation. That was a starting point to be involved with research and pursuing opportunities in that direction later during grad school.

Currently at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), I am a researcher in the computer science and mathematics division. I develop data-driven and analytical models for understanding and identifying anomalies in large-scale networked systems such as cyber-physical systems, communication systems, and socio-technological systems like social media.

This is broad, but common to these systems, also known as complex systems, is that they are made of a large number of elements and that these elements interact in non-linear ways, often producing collective behavior. This collective behavior cannot be explained by analyzing the aggregated behavior of the individual parts. For example, on the internet, a large number of independent and autonomous networks, also known as Autonomous Systems (ASes), such as internet service providers, corporations, and universities are constantly interacting between each other to share reachability of information with respect to where to find destination IP addresses. To do so, ASes communicate using a protocol called Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). The details of the protocol and the interactions between Ases are complex and subject to engineering and economic constraints. However, their aggregated behavior allows users around the globe to navigate the web—and use many other services—by allowing them to find the resources they need every time they search online.

In these networked systems such as the internet, their emergent behavior may sometimes be anomalous or substantially different. This idea in the cybersecurity space is really important because it may be an indication of a problem or in the worst case scenario an indication of an upcoming attack. A similar approach as described in the case of the internet may be used to study other real-world networked systems.

Trusted CI: Tell us about your experience using the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) assessment.

When I was finishing my studies at IU, I had the chance to participate in a Trusted CI workshop in Chicago. At that time Florence [Hudson] was leading that effort.

In addition to getting to interact with other researchers, the intention of the workshop was to provide an opportunity to share the latest research efforts in the cybersecurity space. The emphasis was also to showcase previous academic research that was subsequently translated to practice, delivering a solution to a practical need. That event was very fruitful and allowed me to interact with other peers, have a fresh perspective into transition to practice, and grow my network.

Later, I was invited to participate in the [Trusted CI] cohort. The intention of the cohort is to bring together researchers interested in solving real-world problems in cybersecurity and help them do so. During the process, you get mentorship through the process of transition to practice. In addition, the experience allows you to foster interactions with external stakeholders to receive feedback and support during the process.

The cohort, under the leadership of Ryan [Kiser] has been developing different useful tools like the TRL assessment and canvas proposition.

The TRL assessment idea is not new. In fact, it came from NASA in the 70s. However, it has not been widely used as a resource for transition to practice by cybersecurity researchers. In particular, the TRL assessment provides a tool—similar to a decision tree—to help classify the level of maturity of a technology. Originally, it was conceived using a nine-level scale (from one to nine) with nine being the most mature technology. The TRL assessment is super helpful, for example, to identify the next steps in the transition to practice journey. The fundamental assumption of the tool is that by recognizing where you are at the moment, you will have a clearer picture on how to proceed next.

For instance, when searching for funding opportunities, having a clear picture of where you are (with respect to the maturation of the technology) will allow you to better target specific sources of funding, enabling next steps in the transition to practice journey. In my experience at ORNL, it is an important decision element when deciding which funding steps to pursue in the overall R&D pipeline across several federal agencies.

Trusted CI: Talk about your experience with the funding you were pursuing.

Here at ORNL, there are different opportunities for funding, including specific ones for transitioning to practice your research. One of the fundamental advantages of working in a national laboratory is that it is an environment that bridges academia and industry. In that sense, the work we do is mission-driven and has real-world impact—often with some component of transition to practice as a measure of impact. That means that both research and development are tied together and highly appreciated.

I already applied to an internal funding opportunity for transition to practice. The main purpose of the solicitation was to look for technologies at a minimum of TRL 5 (requiring a working high-fidelity prototype which is beyond basic research) to support the necessary steps for technology maturation. The final goal was to help convert the prototype into an actual usable system that may open the door to commercialization opportunities.

By the time I applied, my technology was not at TRL 5 and of course that was the basis of the feedback that I received. I, however, enjoyed and learned during the process and realized that there are other solicitations that may be more adequate to help me to increase the TRL of my technology (from proof-of-concept to prototype). Throughout the process, I had the chance to talk with practitioners out there and learn about the practical challenges they faced with current deployed systems. I also learned about other federal agencies such as DOE, DHS, and DARPA (and people there) looking for proposals with the focus on transition to practice. That was encouraging.

Trusted CI: Tell us more about your technology.

It's a technology that aims to detect and inform network operators in near real-time about routing incidents (of different severity) by leveraging update messages transmitted in BGP. The fundamental characteristic of the intended system is that it is somehow automatic (leveraging AI/ML methods), detects incidents as soon as possible (allowing quick turnaround), and is able to detect subtle attacks in which only a small fraction of IP prefixes are affected (usually the ones performed through man-in-the-middle).

Trusted CI: Describe where you’d say you are in your transition to practice.

Through the Trusted CI cohort, I had the opportunity to use that TRL tool to evaluate the current state of my technology. By using the tool and the decision criteria behind it, I am pretty confident that the technology at this stage is on what is called Level 3 or proof-of-concept.

The next step will be to mature the technology to build a high-fidelity working prototype that can be used to detect routing incidents using real-time data.

This particular BGP project came from my dissertation research. I recently published a paper about it. However, beyond this project, I see that tools like the TRL assessment are essential to guide my next steps. For that reason, this experience easily translates to other ongoing research projects that go through the whole R&D pipeline.

Trusted CI: Where do you see your research heading down the road?

I'm pursuing the idea of maturing the BGP technology. The problem of BGP incident detection has been in the community for many years. BGP anomaly detection is a difficult space with little room for improvement. For that reason, you need to be very precise about the added value the technology is offering. I also started new projects in the cybersecurity space where I see a clear path between research and development. Currently, these are in earlier stages but may benefit from early consideration through the use of tools like the TRL assessment and the Trusted CI cohort experience.