By Sherry DiBari

Hongyi Wu, director of Old Dominion University's School of Cybersecurity, and Chunsheng Xin, professor of electrical and computer engineering, are principal investigators for a $1.3 million grant awarded by the National Science Foundation along with a nearly $500,000 award from the National Security Agency. ODU's Jiang Li, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was also a contributor and co-principal investigator to the project.

Wu and Xin will work with researchers from the University at Buffalo to deliver a first-of-its-kind cybersecurity platform to support secure and privacy-preserving machine learning (ML) research.

Machine learning is an important tool for science, engineering, medical, finance, and homeland security applications. It is also an attractive target for cybercriminals.

A critical hurdle faced by ML researchers is the steep learning curve needed to effectively use security and privacy tools and applications.

The platform, DEEPSECURE (development and experimental environment for privacy-preserving and secure ML), will be created to close that gap by providing an easy-to-use secure environment to test machine learning.

"DEEPSECURE will contribute significantly to the protection of the future cyber and physical world and safeguard human society," Wu said.

In addition to the technical component, the project includes significant efforts for fostering and sustaining an ML security and privacy research community.

The project output includes an open-source and easy-to-use secure and privacy-preserved learning platform for research, curriculum development and workforce training.

To support building a sustainable workforce development pipeline, the project team will continue to participate in the existing annual GenCyber summer camps for K-12 students and a Cyber Saturday series to introduce cybersecurity and AI career paths and educational resources to K-12 school counselors, teachers, students and parents.

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