The nation’s 54 million residential computer networks, which often have inadequate or out-of-date security safeguards, leave millions of Americans vulnerable to fraud, compromise, and even property damage. Poorly protected home computers and other connected devices are inviting targets for hackers seeking to build “botnets” to send spam or phishing emails or launch malicious Internet attacks.
A computer science researcher at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) believes the solution to this widespread and costly problem is to reinvent residential network security by taking the task of defending home networks out of the hands of homeowners—who typically have little or no computer training and little understanding of the importance of keeping their security safeguards up-to-date—and putting it in the hands of experts.
With a five-year, $507,600 CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the agency’s most prestigious award for young faculty members, Craig Shue, associate professor of computer science at WPI, will develop a groundbreaking approach to security that uses cloud-based security providers and deployable security solutions to outsource the management of home networks, an approach he believes can transform home networks from liabilities into assets.
“Residential networks outnumber enterprise (or non-residential) networks nine to one,” Shue said, “but while enterprise networks may follow best practices and have robust security, home networks typically lack these protections and are the last place where networking innovations are deployed. Our aim is to take some of the security practices used in enterprise networks and apply them to home networks. By making millions of home networks more secure, we can also bolster the security of the Internet as a whole.”