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Science of Security’s Annual Security Conference Goes Virtual and Gets Record Attendance

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  • By Science of Security Team

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), so we have been celebrating cybersecurity all month long! 

The Science of Security (SoS) & Privacy program recently sponsored the Hot Topics in Science of Security (HoTSoS) Conference. This premier event brings NSA and other researchers together in an unclassified environment along with practitioners and thought leaders from government, industry, and academia, to discuss scientific foundations of cybersecurity.

HoTSoS was created as a public venue to grow and enhance the cybersecurity mission value from NSA’s unclassified research engagements and partnerships with academia and private industry.  While this year marked the 7th HoTSoS, it was the first to be held virtually and recorded the highest-ever attendance!  

Originally scheduled to be held in-person this past spring at the University of Kansas, which is one of six universities in the country hosting a Lablet*, the HoTSoS conference was rescheduled to the fall. Ongoing COVID-19 restrictions led to reconfiguring the conference for virtual attendance and waiving registration fees for attendees. These changes, along with the new ability for participants to log in from the comfort of their homes, led to record participation.  

“Going virtual has had some benefits even as people missed face-to-face interactions,” said Dr. Adam Tagert, SoS Technical Lead at NSA. “Anyone interested could participate without a need to travel and payment of registration fees. This enabled far greater participation than in past years.”

Key presentations at this year’s conference included: Public Trust in 5G (fifth generation wireless technology for digital cellular networks); Amazon Web Services (AWS) – Amazon’s on-demand cloud computing platform; and Evaluating Fuzz Testing (techniques used to discover coding errors and security loopholes).

*What is a Lablet?

Funded by NSA, Lablets are small university laboratories that conduct cybersecurity research on a variety of topics ranging from governance of Big Data to Internet of Things security and predictions on the ability of hackers to compromise systems. 

There are currently six universities hosting Lablets: Carnegie Mellon University, University of California, Berkeley (The International Computer Science Institute), University of Kansas, North Carolina State University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Vanderbilt University. 

To support engagement with additional schools with wide-ranging cybersecurity researcher talent, the SoS team recently designated some schools from within the Ivy League, Historically Black Colleges/Universities (HBCUs), women’s colleges, and military colleges as Associate Lablets. Although not funded by the agency, professors and students from Associate Lablets present and discuss research at SoS meetings and collaborate with NSA and Lablet researchers to solve the SoS’s “5 Hard Cybersecurity Problems” – Scalability & Composability, Metrics, Human Behavior, Policy, and Resilient Architectures.

The 8th Annual HoTSoS Conference is scheduled for April 13-15, 2021. It will again be virtual and registration fees will be waived. Proposals for presentation are being accepted by the SoS team through January 8, 2021. Registration to attend the event will open early next year. 

Visit to learn how to engage with the SoS research program.