CICI: Regional: New England Cybersecurity Operation and Research Center (CORE)

PI: Xinwen Fu
Co-PIs: Lawrence Wilson, Benyuan Liu, Yan Luo
Consultant: Keith Moran

Award Number: NSF 1642124

The New England Cybersecurity Operation and Research Center (CORE) is a collaboration between cybersecurity researchers and networking experts from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and Information Technology (IT) support personnel and leadership from the Office of the President of University of Massachusetts (UMass), who work together to improve the security of under-resourced institutions in New England and providing a model of a regional approach to cybersecurity. The project leaders have built long term partnerships with local IT and cybersecurity-related organizations and consortia, which enable the project to reach beyond academia and affect the cybersecurity of the general public. Finding qualified cybersecurity personnel is a challenge faced by campuses and businesses across the nation. One major goal of the CORE center is development of the cybersecurity workforce in New England. The project directly addresses this need, providing a template for other regions to follow. The project offers internships, assistantships, and co-ops for students to work in the security operations and research center and obtain hands-on training in cybersecurity operation and research. The researchers incorporate the outcomes of the project into courses on computer and network security and privacy, mobile computing, wireless networks and digital forensics. They have a track record of accepting female and minority students into research groups, and consciously and actively encourage students from traditionally underrepresented groups to join this project.

The researchers have established an open cybersecurity program at UMass, which guides customers through a sequence of steps and selects security controls and technologies from both proprietary solutions and free open source solutions, considering the budget of the institution or enterprise that wants to protect their assets. In the UMass cybersecurity program, these assets go through the UMass controls "factory". The input of the factory is unmanaged assets with weak security controls or without any controls. The output is a suite of managed assets with strong security controls, thus ensuring campus environments have robust cybersecurity protection. The researchers have applied the UMass open cybersecurity program to the UMass network and assets, which are monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This project expands the services including security consulting, security operations and security training/education to other local institutions and companies, and performs research on emerging threats, trends and defense based on the collected data. To sustain the operation, the CORE center provides services at affordable rates.