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Cyber Security High Abstraction Contextual Visualization and Decision Support System


TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Information Systems

OBJECTIVE: Develop dynamically adjustable trustworthiness metrics that are tuned to human relevance and to automated protocols and that can be manipulated with a highly abstract, tangible interface.

DESCRIPTION: During a cyber attack, Continuity of Operations, or other high-rate dynamic context shift of events, trustworthiness metrics can be so dynamic that cyberspace operators need a real-time high-abstraction interface that enables on-the-fly control of autonomic systems. Allowing users to control the scope of what they believe is currently relevant may help enable autonomic and net-centric system of systems to aid the operation of highly volatile situations encountered during net-enabled spectrum warfare.

Cyberspace analysts must monitor vast amounts of information to enable secure and effective operations. There are human and automated protocols in place to support this activity, but the subsequent presentation of this information is not optimized. Therefore, the intent of this research is to develop a simple-looking visualization and control system that semi-automatically adjusts to events of relevance in the cyberspace domain in an intuitive way to provide only the appropriate trustworthiness metrics needed for the human supervision of the autonomic trust protocols.

By allowing very high abstraction control of the top four to seven (+/- 2) things that users care most about at the moment of use (see citations 5 & 6 below), the system could re-orient the display based on the dynamic scope control of an underlying ontology representing the breadth of many possible trustworthiness measures that may be of interest at different phases of sensor system of system operation and context of use. By allowing the system to dynamically choose scope using abstract representations like topic maps (see 1 below), the appropriate trustworthiness metrics would be presented to the user and subsequent demand for that kind of data passed to relevant cyberspace systems for cyber protocol tasking and refinement of data fusion and data analysis.

With the convergence of several streams of technology and with new understanding from the social sciences, a new capability has emerged in the visualization and control of cyber security systems. Protocols for maintaining operator trust are based on trustworthiness metrics of the underlying computer and communication systems that are context dependent. Some protocols may be more efficaciously invoked than others depending on the situation. Which protocols the system invokes may be determined before hand by the weightings and priorities of decision support algorithms, but those traditional artificial intelligence and machine learning approaches have yet to enable fully automated control of sophisticated protocols across the vast array of possible situations that may arise. Therefore, a mixed initiative human-machine system is required that blends initiative taken by human operators with their automated systems.

Mixed-initiative control is premised on functional abstraction hierarchy representations that look like a work-breakdown structure of activity from strategic level objectives down to actual protocol invocation by automated systems. Adjustment of the displayed level of abstraction requires a dynamic representation of the context to know what is most important for the user to see at any given moment. The traditional means of addressing visualization and control of trustworthiness metrics have been tried and found wanting (4 & 7), and are therefore excluded from this call for proposals unless they include novel application of emerging technologies. One such possibility has emerged from the convergence of three schools of diverse disciplines of Topic Maps, Tangible Interfaces and Sandplay Therapy. (1, 2 & 3) This convergence may be further aided by the advance in electronic location technologies such as RFID. A final enabler of this convergence is the growing youth culture of gaming. Combining gaming culture’s use of tangible and computer displays with the social, psychological and computer interface technologies could be a convergence that allows for a long sought advance in high abstraction interfaces that control other displays, algorithms and devices while being tightly synchronized with the current situation and context of use for easy manipulation by a user. Thus, proposals are being sought that offer any effective set of novel combinations of new and emerging interdisciplinary technologies while excluding solutions that offer single discipline, traditional approaches.

The goal of this topic is to conduct new and innovative, interdisciplinary research and development in technologies for selecting appropriate trustworthiness protocols using advanced human/machine interfaces for the visualization and control in a cyberspace security contexts of use.

PHASE I: Phase I activity shall include: Design and develop new visualization and control interface technologies that finds the relevant subset of trust measures and uses these to adjust context dependent trustworthiness metrics, which will thus enable semi-automated use of trust maintenance protocols and demonstrate a proof-of-principle prototype for a cyberspace security scenario that shows the control of high abstraction representations and their linkage to underlying trustworthiness metrics.

PHASE II: The researcher shall develop and demonstrate a comprehensive prototype implementing the Phase I technologies to show ability for extending this to many relevant trustworthiness metrics for cyberspace use cases with several realistic trust protocols and demonstrating a high abstraction representation and interface controlling automated trust maintenance protocols. The researcher shall detail the Phase III plan.


Military application: The desired product for cyber security applied to Command, Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C2ISR), Electronic Warfare Battle Management or sensor resource management.

Commercial application: This system would benefit any commercial application dealing with gaming and psychology research or psychotherapy instrumentation or analysis.

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