5G connectivity ushered in a new era of possibilities for cybersecurity. Recognizing this, the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) and US Ignite partnered to host the Virginia Cybersecurity Challenge, a four-phase competition with the goal of sparking the development of cybersecurity prototypes that leverage unique elements of emerging 5G technologies to provide secure operations or communications in ways not possible with previous generation networks. Ultimately, it is expected that the competition will lead to the creation of new cyber jobs within the Commonwealth.

After completing the first two phases of the competition, we are excited to share more about the four finalist teams plus the prizes each earned as a result of their concepts and prototypes! 

Reducing the risk of Intentional Electromagnetic Interference using Multifunctional Phase Change Composites (Virginia Commonwealth University)

Awarded: $60,000

To address the danger of electromagnetic sabotage, which involves the deliberate use of electronic equipment performance, this team is developing a multifunctional coating that can concurrently provide high-frequency electromagnetic radiation shielding and passive thermal management for microwave devices. The coating is generated through a composite system that consists of a phase-change matrix improved through the inclusion of magnetic filler particles with high microwave absorption efficiency. The innovative solution conforms to the size, weight, power, and cost demands of 5G devices. 

Data-driven Cyber-Attack Control in Communication between Autonomous Vehicles and infrastructure for 5G-assisted Transportation Cyber-Physical Systems (University of Virginia) 

Awarded: $60,000

This team developed and implemented software prototypes to detect false information in the vehicle-to-infrastructure communication in Transportation Cyber-Physical Systems (TCPS). In this phase, the team investigated the efficacy and accuracy of real-time false information detection in the V2I communication by leveraging smartphones to simulate vehicles and AWS as the 5G infrastructure. The team will also develop software for the V2I false information detection in the 5G-assisted TCPS

NetSense: A Web-based Software-as-a-Service Modeling Environment to Study and Analyze Wireless 5G Networks as Complex Systems (Virginia Military Institute) 

Awarded: $25,000

In this project, the team presented a web-based modeling and analytical environment for running network dynamics and predicting the spread of malicious behaviors and computer viruses on 5G networks. The project uses a novice approach to view the 5G network as a complex system of interacting components. By recasting real 5G networks in an abstract simulated graph, the team can run intensive data analytics and simulations, and propose intervention strategies to avoid cascading failures. A useful forthcoming feature entails a dashboard to query and visualize networks, subnetworks, and their properties to address this issue.

Proactive Trustworthy – Self Sovereign Identity Management (PT-SSIM) solution for 5G IoT-based D2D authentication (VMI/ODU) 

Awarded: $15,000

Recognizing the need to enable privacy-friendly, computationally efficient, and reliable device-to-device (D2D) authentication, this team’s project introduces a zero-knowledge proof mechanism with intrinsic resilient storage and management that enables automated trustworthy authentications. This ‘Proactive Trustworthy Self-Sovereign Identity Management’ (PT-SSIM) system manages a blockchain-based smart contract platform to facilitate an operation that can support a large number of concurrent identity verification transactions. PT-SSIM is built to enable user-controlled identity verification with no credential disclosure.

What’s Next?

Over the next six months, these teams will develop an operational product based on their prototype; demonstrate a functional application to a panel of judges for evaluation, and submit a proposal for commercialization.

The final phase of the Virginia Cybersecurity Competition focuses on taking the solutions created by the teams to market and generating cyber jobs within the Commonwealth. Commercialization activities will be set by US Ignite, CCI, and other partners. Such activities include facilitating networking sessions with high-tech partners, enrollment in relevant accelerators and incubators, and guided business plan development. To remain updated on the progress of the four finalist teams and other US Ignite news, subscribe to our monthly newsletter by clicking here.

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