University of Kansas researchers have received a multimillion-dollar Department of Defense grant designed to build user trust and confidence in the security of cloud computing and to develop techniques that ensure projects run as predicted, without interference.
Perry Alexander, distinguished professor of electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), is the principal investigator on a four-year, $2.7 million grant. EECS Associate Professors Prasad Kulkarni and Andy Gill serve as co-investigators on developing the program, known as ArmoredSoftware.
According to Forbes Magazine, businesses spend an estimated $13 billion on cloud computing and managed hosting services. More than half of U.S. businesses are phasing out expensive IT equipment for pay-as-you-go service. It reduces costs and offers greater flexibility in response to changing needs. As more government agencies and businesses rent computing power, software and storage over the Internet, they need tools to verify trustworthiness and integrity.
ArmoredSoftware evaluates programs for abnormal behavior, like those exhibited by viruses and spyware, and takes actions to protect itself and data. Whether that action is reporting the compromised program, migrating to a new infrastructure, or simply ignoring the work order will depend on the threat level, Alexander said.
Alexander likens the security concerns to feeling unsafe while walking in a city. There are many options: hail a cab, move to the other side of the street, call for help or run to safety. It is about finding the best solution for each particular situation.
“We can’t perform a physical check on servers thousands of miles away. We need to do that across the network by building a trustworthiness assessment into the hardware and software infrastructure,” said Alexander, who leads KU’s Information and Telecommunication Technology Center (ITTC).