The $50,000 fellowship will allow Neupane to continue his dissertation work, titled “A Multi-Modal Neuro-Physiological Investigation of User-Centered Security.” Under the direction of associate professor Nitesh Saxena, Ph.D., Neupane examines internet users’ susceptibility and ability to detect cybercriminal attacks by analyzing a user’s brain activity and eye gaze while they are performing security related tasks.
“Keeping computer systems and networks secure often relies upon the decisions and actions of those using the system,” Neupane said. “Therefore, it is vital to understand users’ performance and behavior when an attack such as phishing or malware occurs. The analysis of neural activations depicts the users’ decision-making capacities, attention and comprehension of the security tasks.”
“This is groundbreaking research that introduces a new dimension in the domain of user-centered security and user experience research,” Saxena said. “This can help design effective security indicators, training kits, personalized security settings and human-machine hybrid defensive mechanisms.”
The team was honored in 2014 with a Distinguished Paper Award at the Network and Distributed Systems Security Symposium for their fMRI study of phishing and malware warnings.
The NIJ GRF-STEM program awards up to $1 million in fellowships annually. The program is open to students enrolled in the full-time doctoral programs in STEM-related fields, including such disciplines as anthropology, biology, chemistry, cognitive science, geoscience, geographical information systems, information sciences, materials science, mathematical sciences, pathology, physics and engineering. The NIJ’s mission is to improve knowledge and understanding of crime and justice issues through science.