Mason Partners with PARC for Defense Research

Photo courtesy of Alan Antczak/released/

Contract Aims to Address Vulnerabilities in Defense Security


Mason, along with the Xerox-owned PARC, has secured a research contract from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).

The contract is for the Secure Configurations for the Internet of Things (IoT) based on Optimization and Reasoning on Graphs, or SCIBORG. It is a part of DARPA’s Configuration Security Program, or ConSec.

“The ConSec program seeks to develop a system to automatically generate, deploy, and enforce configurations of components and subsystems for use in military platforms,” DARPA’s website said. “These configurations should address system vulnerabilities and minimize attack surfaces while maintaining expected functionality and performance.”

“The goal of SCIBORG is to devise fundamentally new approaches to determine security configurations that protect critical infrastructure and IoT-based systems,” a press release by PARC said about the program.

The IoT is defined by Forbes as “the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cellphones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of.”

The plan for SCIBORG is to have researchers “ingest per-component configurations and construct graph-based models to capture within-component and between-component dependencies among configuration elements,” according to the press release.

Essentially, the plan is to detect flaws in the security of military devices that are part of the IoT by reconstructing IoT devices to detect weak points both within and between them that may make the devices and the network vulnerable for a security breakdown due to hacking.

According to Ersin Uzun, PARC’s system sciences laboratory director, “SCIBORG’s approach explicitly encodes constraints on the configuration parameters using graph-based models, allowing us to significantly reduce the actual number of configurations that need to be tested for security and functionality.”

In short, the graph model that SCIBORG is going to use will enable a faster research window by narrowing the total number of possible combinations that will be tested by said researchers.

Massimiliano Albanese, an associate professor for Mason’s department of information sciences and technology  is part of the project and will serve, according to PARC’s press release, as a “faculty collaborator” for the SCIBORG project.