Nate Foster, associate professor of computer science, and research colleagues have received a major grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The three-year term, multi-million dollar award is aimed at increasing internet security through technological innovation. As Melanie Lefkowitz writes in coverage for the Chronicle:

Networks allow computers to communicate with each other, but consolidation in the technology industry has led to error-prone and inflexible networks that are difficult to customize. Programmable networks can allow operators greater control, because they don’t have to reply on vendors and can build and deploy more secure and reliable systems.

Though recent advances in technology could allow operators to program their own networks, little has been done until now to address the security and robustness of computer infrastructure.

“We are quickly moving to an era where network behavior is defined by software engineers in code. This change brings tremendous potential, but also a need to ensure the network is behaving as intended,” said Nate Foster, associate professor of computer science and a co-investigator on the grant.

“Our goal is to create automated verification tools that can help identify unintended anomalies and secure networks against intentional attacks,” Foster said.

In his research, Foster is joined by the "grant’s principal investigator is Nick McKeown, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Stanford University. Also partnering on the grant are Jennifer Rexford, professor of computer science at Princeton University, and Guru Parulkar, executive director of the Open Networking Foundation and executive director of the Stanford Platform Lab."

The researchers from Cornell, Princeton and Stanford are working on a project known as Pronto, which will build a platform supporting fine-grained measurement, networking and closed-loop control. Their goal is to ensure the integrity of the network and reduce the possibility that human error or bad actors can disrupt it.

For more on Pronto, read this article. And continue the Chronicle article.

In related news, see "Nate Foster and Collaborators Win Best Paper Award at ACM SIGCOMM CoNEXT '20"