This spring, Northeastern faculty led a congressional briefing in Washington that addressed vulnerabilities in cybersecurity that threaten consumers, industry, and government.

Professors Engin Kirda and William Robertson said threats, such as malware aimed at weak mobile devices and attacks targeting major infrastructure, are influenced by our dependency on the Internet.

“Research can play a big role in developing automated approaches to detect and mitigate attacks,” said Kirda, adding that Northeastern is well positioned to take a lead role in this area. Kirda is the co-director of the International Secure Systems Lab, a collaborative effort of European and U.S. researchers focused on computer security issues. Robertson is also affiliated with this lab.

Mel Bernstein and Stephen Flynn joined the researchers at the briefing. Flynn said the United States must supplement its prevention and defense efforts with a greater focus on resilience of cybersecurity networks and infrastructure—a key area of focus at the Kostas Institute.

At the briefing, U.S. Rep. William Keating (D-MA) said developing strategic partnerships among government, the private sector, business, and academia is critical to overcoming cyberthreats.

The White House has introduced legislation to bolster cybersecurity protections, and during the session, the Northeastern team pushed for the bill to incorporate language that designates universities as cyberdefense research partners.

The Team

Mel Bernstein, senior vice provost for research and graduate education, former director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of University Programs

Stephen Flynn, professor and founding co-director of the university’s Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security

Engin Kirda, the Sy and Laurie Sternberg Associate Professor of Information Assurance in the College of Computer and Information Science and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

William Robertson, assistant professor in the College of Computer and Information Science and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering