UCCS student research wins award at USCYBERCOM Research Competition

From April 19-20, 2023, U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) held the inaugural USCYBERCOM Cyber Recon 2023 conference in Maryland.

One team from UCCS, consisting of PhD student Mark Maldonado and academic advisor Shouhuai Xu, Gallogly Endowed Engineering Chair in Cybersecurity and professor in computer science, together with USCYBERCOM Mentors CDR Stephanie Pendino and LTC Dr. Robert James Ross, received the Analyst Award.

The title of their project was “Towards Detecting Log4j Attacks via Machine Learning,” which aims to detect high-profile attacks like Log4j using machine learning techniques.

“Receiving the Analyst Award shows that our students are doing outstanding research in cybersecurity,” Xu said. “We look forward to having more students to participate in the Cyber Recon research activities and competitions in its future editions.”

USCYBERCOM issued a call for research competition among its Academic Engagement Network (AEN) member institutions, which are universities and colleges in the United States. UCCS joined the AEN network, which has about 100 member institutions, in January 2022.

USCYBERCOM issued a list of research problems of interest to them. Each AEN member institution was encouraged to submit research proposals with respect to some of the academic research questions selected by the participation team, which consists of one or multiple students and an academic advisor.

Among all the proposals submitted, USCYBERCOM selected 15 research proposals, and assigned one or two mentors, who are USCYBERCOM experts, to each team. Each research team conducts their research under the co-supervision of their academic advisor and USCYBERCOM mentors. The USCYBERCOM mentors also travelled to their respective institution corresponding to their research project to have in-person discussions on their project. Each team submitted their research results in terms of paper, slides and video briefings in March 2023.

All teams are invited to attend to do poster presentations based on their projects. At the conference, each team presented their posters to USCYBERCOM experts and the conference attendees.

The student attendees are also assigned into groups to participate in a Tabletop exercise and competition. UCCS PhD students Mark Maldonado and Doug Healy were on the team that won the Tabletop exercise competition.

“The USCYBERCOM research questions are one important source demonstrating the challenges that are encountered by the USCYBERCOM,” said Xu. “They can help academic researchers in evaluating the relevance of their academic research.”

Learn more about USCYBERCOM at https://www.cybercom.mil.