Home Team of researchers at Virginia Tech, BAE Systems receive $14 million contract to help secure information

Team of researchers at Virginia Tech, BAE Systems receive $14 million contract to help secure information

Virginia TechA collaborative project between BAE Systems and a team of researchers at Virginia Tech have been awarded a $14 million contract from the Intelligence Advance Research Projects Activity to help secure communications due to an increase in vulnerability and threats.

The goal of the award is to develop tools to decipher radio frequency signals in an effort to help secure critical information. Of the $14 million contract, the team at Virginia Tech is receiving a $1.5 million sub-award to provide expertise in the area of machine-learning-based strategies for radio frequency anomaly detection.

The team at Virginia Tech includes Lingjia Liu, Jeff Reed, Carl Dietrich, Shashank Jere, Nima Mohammadi, and Harpreet Dhillion.

Liu is working on machine learning-based spectrum prediction. Specifically, he and his team will focus on “reservoir computing.”

This type of computing is used to predict activity and occupancy of an entire network based on observations of a small sample piece of that network. Looking at a small section to predict activity on a larger scale is particularly important when it comes to secure communications because analyzing the entire network in a time-sensitive situation would be nearly impossible. Because information travels quickly, threats can cause damage on a wide scale in just seconds. Being able to identify a threat as quickly as possible is key to preventing damage on a large scale.

This computing method is also known as the recurrent neural network. The team will also use signal characterization to identify the types of signals being sent within the secure communications network. With these prediction and characterization techniques, the hope is that the technology produced will provide enhanced situational awareness, help target threats, and secure communications against malicious attacks.

By the end of the three-year project, Liu expects that real applications from this research should be in place to help mitigate the number of threats and malicious attacks to secure communications.

BAE Systems will provide the team with suggestions and guidance on how to set up the experiment. This assistance includes providing a baseline of simulated data before moving on to actual data obtained from the hardware testbed.

The advanced defense technology company will then review the success of the proposed candidate technologies (and how well they worked to analyze anomalies, threats, etc.) together with the Virginia Tech team and provide suggestions and feedback based on those test runs.

As part of the ongoing research project, Liu and his team have bi-weekly meetings with the prime contractor, BAE Systems. The Virginia Tech team of researchers is responsible for developing the machine learning algorithms based on the simulated data. BAE will then incorporate that design and the algorithms into its software tools.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.