Northrop Grumman Corp. and partnering academic institutions are making strides on cyber-security research as part of a joint effort, the research consortium recently announced at a National Press Club event.

The defense giant is teaming with Carnegie Mellon University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Purdue University in the Northrop Grumman Cybersecurity Research Consortium, which was first made public two years ago.

Robert Brammer, vice president and chief technology officer of Northrop Grumman Information Systems, spoke of progress last week.

“The collaboration among our industry professionals and the university researchers has been exciting, and I look forward to the consortium being a significant factor in the race to counter the growing threats in cyber-space,” he said.

Research projects mentioned include cost-effective approaches for organizing and evaluating cyber-tests that could facilitate better analysis of cyber-attacks and defense strategies. Northrop Grumman also mentioned approaches to improve cloud security computing.

“If successful on a large scale, these techniques will significantly improve software security for customers while reducing the time and cost it takes to develop, certify and accredit these systems for government operations,” Brammer said.

Northrop Grumman plans to apply the research commercially

Brammer spoke of the increasing sophistication and volume of modern cyber-attacks and how the consortium’s research foci on major issues affecting customers. The consortium’s facilities include MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab and Purdue’s Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security.

Northrop Grumman’s and other U.S. military contractors are believed to have detected a major cyber-attack on their networks last month that might have been perpetrated by a nation-state, according to various media reports. The intrusions involved remote-access security tokens, security analysts said.