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Malware methodology, drone launchers and a health IT departure

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NSF grantee finds new malware approach

Research funded by a National Science Foundation grant resulted in the uncovering of a new proactive methodology for detecting malicious software in networked computers and data.

Findings from the 2010 NSF CAREER Award grant to develop software that differentiates human-user computer interaction from malware were revealed at the ACM Symposium on Information, Computer and Communications Security in Kyoto, Japan, earlier this month.

Danfeng Yao, associate professor of computer science at Virginia Tech, worked with a fellow professor and a graduate student on detecting malware and infected computer hosts in advance.

"The true significance of this security approach is its potential [as a] proactive defense capability," Yao said. "Conventional security systems scan for known attack patterns, which is reactive. Our anomaly detection based on enforcing benign properties in network traffic is a clear departure from that."

Yao had previously garnered a three-year grant from the Office of Naval Research on cybersecurity to quantitatively detect anomalies in Defense Department computers, mobile devices, command and control servers, and embedded systems deployed on U.S. Navy ships.

Navy wants smaller launch craft for drones

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Office of Naval Research recently signed a memorandum of agreement on a joint program called Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (TERN), which seeks to build a prototype of a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial system that can launch from a deck the size of an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, Defense Systems reports.

If successful, TERN would allow long-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and other capabilities from a variety of forward-deployed ships. Long-range ISR missions are important to military operations but require either an aircraft carrier or a ground base from which to launch aircraft. Pentagon and Navy researchers want to develop unmanned aircraft that can launch from smaller ships without having to modify their decks.

Pritts leaving health IT post

Joy Pritts, chief privacy officer at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, will be leaving her post July 12 after four-and-a-half years on the job, according to

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