Business Matters

Mason Teams with Vencore to Help Agencies Beef up Cybersecurity

By Damian Cristodero

vencore logoA new partnership between George Mason University and Vencore seeks to help organizations understand the value of data before cyberattacks strike and advise them on what action they can take to protect their investment.

The collaborative effort comes as cyber incidents are fast becoming one of the most critical concerns of government agencies and businesses.

“It’s sort of like building yourself an insurance policy,” says Jerry Freeman, the project manager for Vencore’s civilian and defense group.

Vencore, a provider of information solutions, engineering, and analytics to the U.S. government, based in Chantilly, Virginia, and George Mason’s School of Business are developing a cyber risk assessment technology. The goal is to help federal agencies determine the value of information susceptible to cyber intrusions and the investment necessary to thwart an attack.

Mason is developing the algorithms. Vencore will develop the interface for its clients. The project is scheduled for completion in August.

“For years within the federal government, there has been an inability to predict or quantify in a reasonable fashion the value of cyber protections,” Freeman says. “The intent is to use the expertise that we have in our nearby educational institutions to be able to generate new capabilities for Vencore.”

“This is one of our first instances of a new way into research contributions that work in alignment with the private sector,” says Sarah Nutter, dean of the School of Business. “Business schools traditionally haven’t done a lot of funded research. What I’m looking to do and what our faculty are looking to do is change that going forward.”

According to John Sutton, senior vice president and general manager of Vencore’s defense and civilian business group, the company reached out to Mason because of the university’s reputation of working with the business community on research projects, particularly in the area of cybersecurity.

Vencore also is partnering with Mason on a DARPA grant, and Vencore president and CEO, Mac Curtis, has served on the advisory board of Mason’s Volgenau School of Engineering.

J.P. Auffret, director for research partnerships and grants initiatives in Mason’s School of Business, shaped the research questions and objectives of the program.

Abhijit Dutt, Amit Dutta, Nirup Menon, and Pallab Sanyal, all professors in the School of Business’ Information Systems and Operations Management unit, are conducting the research.

“It’s important,” Auffret says of the project, “because it gives the government and the private sector a way to ascertain what’s most important to protect.”