Mizzou Engineering hosts 14th CANSec Workshop

November 19, 2021

Khaza Anuarul Hoque

Khaza Anuarul Hoque

Cybersecurity experts from across the region convened at the 14th Central Area Networking and Security Workshop (CANSec) hosted by Mizzou Engineering this past weekend. The virtual event gave faculty members, students and industry professionals the opportunity to present their research, share ideas and explore possible collaborations.

“This is really an opportunity for all cybersecurity researchers working in the central area to come together and know what kinds of research is happening in the region,” said Khaza Anuarul Hoque, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) and the Director of the Dependable Cyber-Physical Systems (DCPS) Laboratory who chaired the event and the organizing committee. “Cybersecurity faculty members at Mizzou could see a lot of research overlap. And the steering committee members also mentioned that these types of presentations give us a good foundation so in the future we can collaborate and apply for federal funding that focuses on multi-institutional collaborations.”

This year’s CANSec attracted more than 70 attendees from Missouri and surrounding states.

During the keynote address, Mohammad Al Faruque, an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine, discussed security around cyber-physical systems used in aerospace, automotive, energy, health care, manufacturing and other industries that store sensitive information. Al Faruque discussed how new vulnerabilities are emerging at the intersection of hardware, software and physical layers within these components. The talk highlighted the need for novel scientific solutions from the larger research community.

Other presenters shared work around protecting unmanned robotic vehicles, attacks on Internet of Things networks, securing blockchain technology and defense techniques for mobile security.

Prasad Calyam

Prasad Calyam

“One of the big take-aways from the workshop was the diversity of projects in the research and presentations,” EECS Associate Professor Prasad Calyam, who co-chaired the 2021 CANSec. “We saw a lot of ideas that are starting to take shape into very promising research directions.”

The regional workshop is unique in that it provides an opportunity for early career faculty and graduate students to present work that might not be ready for larger conferences, said Calyam, who is also Greg L. Gilliom Professor of Cyber Security.

This year CANSec featured an industry panel moderated by Calyam. The panel focused on modern cybersecurity attacks and industry trends related to use of artificial intelligence in securing data and smart devices. Panelists included:

  • Walid Rjaibi – IBM Distinguished Engineer and CTO for Data Security at IBM
  • Ramnath Venugopalan – Chief Architect / Senior Vice President, Product Architecture at CrowdStrike
  • Sven Krasser – Senior Vice President, Chief Scientist at CrowdStrike
  • Kathy Bellew – Cybersecurity Analyst at MOREnet

A cyber defense competition was also organized for the five participating student teams. The competition was managed by Calyam and Vijay Anand, an associate professor from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The competition is designed to test each student team’s ability to secure a networked computer system while maintaining standard business functionality. The winners of this year’s competition were:

  • 1st Place – Iowa State University
  • 2nd Place – Kansas State University
  • 3rd Place – University of Missouri – St. Louis

This was the first year Mizzou has hosted CANSec, which is held at a different venue each year. Mizzou Engineering was a good fit because of its strong team of researchers who are studying issues around cybersecurity, Hoque said.

The organizing committee also included EECS Associate Professor Dan Lin, Associate Professor and Mizzou Cybersecurity Center Director Rohit Chadha, and EECS Assistant Professor Gergei Bana. The steering committee included representatives from the University of Kansas, University of Arkansas, Kansas State University and University of Missouri – Kansas City.