Xinming Ou and Jarred Ligatti awarded $500K NSF grant as part of a $1.2 million multi-university project

September 4, 2018

USF Department of Computer Science and Engineering Professors Xinming Ou and Jay Ligatti, along with USF Anthropology Professor Daniel Lende was awarded $500K National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to carry on fundamental research for the project entitled "SaTC: CORE: Medium: Collaborative: Understanding Security in the Software Development Lifecycle: A Holistic, Mixed-Methods Approach." This is part of a multi-university collaborative project totaling $1.2M that includes University of Maryland and University of South Florida. Professors Ou, Ligatti, and Lende will collaborate with Professors Michelle Mazurek and Michael Hicks at University of Maryland in this three-year multi-disciplinary effort. The research team will tackle the very core of the cybersecurity problem: the pervasive software vulnerabilities that enable attackers to breach into computer systems. The goal of the research is to understand why those vulnerabilities keep being introduced in the software development process and how to effectively reduce them. A unique novel aspect of this project is its heavy use of qualitative research methods commonly found in social sciences, due to the fact that the problem is inherently a human-centered one: why software developers make those mistakes and what organizational factors play crucial roles. USF Anthropology professor Daniel Lende will provide expertise and training in qualitative methods to computer science students who participate in this research. Through this unique research method, the researchers hope to understand what type of technical innovations/interventions can help improve the situation, thus creating real impact in industry. The research team will partner with a number of software companies.