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Ithaca firm wins Navy contract to improve software security

ITHACA — The U.S. Navy has awarded Ithaca–based GrammaTech, Inc. a contract to develop a tool that will enable computer systems to understand and react to malicious attacks.


GrammaTech says it is a software developer that specializes in software-assurance tools and cybersecurity products.


It is difficult to actively monitor systems to detect and respond to breaches because “misbehaving software is not characterized by some universal pattern,” GrammaTech said in a news release. The firm, a spinoff from Cornell University, didn’t release details on the value of the contract.



In this project, GrammaTech researchers will use a combination of automatic-program analysis and manual-tuning techniques to develop a tool for creating a model of a system’s intended behavior, the company said.


The model is meant to capture its “most important” properties and determine what low-level events to track in order to observe the system’s critical behavior, according to GrammaTech.


This tool will be “easy” for developers to use, and that’s “important,” Tim Teitelbaum, chairman and CEO of GrammaTech, said in the news release.


“As the developer codes, the tool will capture his or her notion of what behavior is expected by creating a model that specifies a boundary the application shouldn’t cross. Our runtime monitors will then look for any unexpected behavior and take corrective action, even if the application has been compromised,” Teitelbaum said.


Its development will provide security-critical systems with an “extra layer” of protection against attacks, including attacks that don’t involve unusual system-call activity, the firm said.


The federal government, financial institutions, and companies whose systems require “strenuous”-security protection will “immediately” find the technology useful, according to GrammaTech.


The firm’s staff includes Ph.D. experts in static analysis and an engineering team which are focused on creating analysis algorithms, according to GrammaTech.


Founded in 1988 and headquartered in Ithaca, GrammaTech also operates a regional office in Davis, Calif., according to its website.


Its customers include Bethesda, Md.–based Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), Falls Church, Va.–based Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC), and NASA, according to its website.


In addition, education institutions, startups, and government agencies use the firm’s static-analysis tools, the company said.


The firm has distributors servicing the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, France, Switzerland, Belgium, German, Austria, Israel, Japan, and Korea, according to the GrammaTech website.




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