Dr. Mengjun Xie Receives over $100,000 to Develop Virtual Cybersecurity Lab

Mengjun Xie Dr. Mengjun Xie of the UA Little Rock Department of Computer Science has received $124,537 from U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) for his project to develop a cloud-based virtual network security lab that will help students practice network and cyber defense skills. The project, called Networking and Network Security in the Cloud (NetSiC), will address issues related to cloud-based computing environments. In a cloud-based environment, information is stored on a remote server in an outside location, rather than locally on a piece of hardware.

The NetSiC lab will incorporate two groups of lab modules. The first group will contain learning modules that can help undergraduate students conduct cloud networking experiments. The second group will contain modules that allow students to conduct network protection and defense experiments.

This project is unique because it allows students to conduct networking and security practices in a computing cloud they choose and the developed software will be free to use.  While other cloud-based cybersecurity labs are available, they either do not provide enough flexibility or require users to pay in order to use their platform.

The NetSiC lab will be developed in the NEXUS (Networked and Complex Systems Security Research) Lab directed by Dr. Xie. The NEXUS Lab is affiliated with the DHS/NSA designated Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) at UA Little Rock.

With the NetSiC lab, Dr. Xie and his team aim to increase students’ knowledge of virtual networks and their ability to successfully protect and defend cloud networks.

Project is sponsored by the National Security Agency under Grant Number H98230-17-1-0273. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Security Agency.

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