Western Kentucky University is now home to a new cyber defense lab designed to ward off attacks to the U.S. Department of Defense’s computer networks.
The Network Attack Characterization Modeling and Simulation Testbed, or NACMAST, is a collaborative effort between WKU, Mississippi State University, University of Arizona and EDAptive Computing Inc. sponsored by the Army Research Lab, Center for Intrusion Monitoring and Protection. The prime contractor is Electronic Warfare Associates Government Systems Inc. (EWA). The testbed is a series of computers designed to develop and test tools to protect Department of Defense computer networks.
NACMAST is funded by $2.8 million in defense appropriations secured by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. The testbed is located in a 1,200-s.f. Cyber Defense Lab built by WKU at the Innovation and Commercialization Center and funded by a $269,000 contract with EWA.
Blaine Ferrell, dean of WKU’s Ogden College of Science and Engineering, said the research being conducted in association with NACMAST includes undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty and fits in well with the push to increase the science, technology, engineering and math student pipeline in Kentucky. “It’s only when you have this caliber activity going, that captures the imagination of students and makes them realize they can do this kind of work in Kentucky, that you will have more students pursuing science, engineering and mathematics degrees,” he said.
WKU’s role in the collaboration includes hosting the physical plant and establishing and maintaining the development network, developing and maintaining test data sets, establishing test plans and procedures, conducting analyses, certifying test results and providing input into the modeling and simulation process.