Researchers help develop state-of-the-art cybersecurity resource

Feb 05, 2014

Researchers from Indiana University's Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research and University Information Technology Services' Research Technologies Division have contributed to the development of a new tool designed to help software developers close critical security holes in their products.

Cybercrime is booming; it is an estimated $100 billion industry in the United States and shows no signs of slowing down. Attackers have an arsenal of weapons at their disposal, including social engineering—or phishing—penetrating weak security protocols and exploiting software vulnerabilities that can serve as an "open window" into an organization's IT environment. Closing those windows requires effective and accessible tools to identify and root out .

The Software Assurance Marketplace, or the SWAMP, has created a resource to address this growing need that was made publicly available and free to the software community this week.

Supported by a $23.4 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, the SWAMP provides a state-of-the-art facility that serves as an open resource for , software assurance tool developers and software researchers who wish to collaborate and improve software assurance activities in a safe, secure environment. From the very early stages of a project and throughout its entire life cycle, the SWAMP offers continuous, automated access to a rich and evolving set of assessment capabilities.

"We're pleased Indiana University's resources could be leveraged in the creation of this state-of-the-art facility that can now serve as an open resource to help improve the safety and quality of software ecosystems by creating access to assurance tools, testing and reporting," said CACR Deputy Director and SWAMP Chief Security Officer Von Welch. Welch serves as the principal investigator for IU's work with SWAMP.

Located in Madison, Wis., and designed by researchers from the Morgridge Institute for Research, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, IU and the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, the SWAMP provides a suite of assurance tools and software packages that serve to identity vulnerabilities and reduce false positives. According to SWAMP's director and chief technology officer, Miron Livny, "The magnitude of our national software assurance problem requires a comprehensive approach backed by a powerful facility that addresses all dimensions of the problem—integrated education, better tools and wider adoption."

The initial operating capability of the SWAMP enables the assessment of Java, C and C++ software against five static analysis tools. Results are displayed via Secure Decisions' CodeDx vulnerability results viewer, which was developed through the Small Business Innovation Research program of the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate.

"We see widespread adoption of the SWAMP as having a profound, positive impact on software systems and applications that powers our critical infrastructure," said DHS software assurance program manager Kevin Greene. "Better assurance practices lead to better security. It's that simple."

"The SWAMP collaboration is a great example of the public and private sector coming together to advance improvements in assurance activities to deal with emerging cyber threats," he added.

The SWAMP's initial assurance tools include FindBugs, PMD, Clang, CppCheck and GCC and the choice of eight platforms. Over the five-year project, SWAMP will add multiple assessment capabilities including mobile, dynamic and binary analysis tools.

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