George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University


Much of the business of our lives is conducted in a digital environment, generating massive amounts of data. Managing and protecting that data is essential. Our expertise in data science makes Mason the tip of the cyber-security spear among Virginia universities.

Professor Kai Zeng

Assistant Professor Kai Zeng's research interests include network security, cognitive radio networks, cyber-physical systems, cybersecurity, network forensics, and physical layer security. (Photo by Creative Services.)

Mason Leads Virginia in Analyzing, Protecting Data

Cybersecurity is in a battle with increasingly sophisticated attackers, who are developing new ways to access information.

Complicating matters is the massive growth rate of digital data, which makes it harder to detect and defend.

As Virginia's leader in information protection and data sciences, our faculty, researchers, and graduates have the depth of knowledge and expertise to stand on the front lines.

Our innovations in data science and cybersecurity work together to shield digital information.

Our multidisciplinary programs produce graduates who know how to mine broad streams of data for actionable intelligence.

That insight enables cybersecurity experts to spot attacks and protect critical assets in real time. 

It doesn't stop there; our researchers use data science to identify trends and develop solutions in a variety of fields, including health care, transportation, and homeland security.

And our proximity to Washington, D.C., the Dulles Tech Corridor, and Bethesda's Bio-research Cluster provide Mason with research partners, internships, and a place to find a career.  

Mason Research Harnesses the Power of Data Science and Information Security

We embrace analytics as a vital multidisciplinary tool. Our students and faculty use data science to study and solve real-world problems in healthcare, environmental sustainability, global social issues, financial markets and security, intellectual property, artificial intelligence, and defense.


Cybersecurity Research Centers

Center for Secure Information Systems

CARE's multidisciplinary approach to cybersecurity encompasses the fields of technology, policy, business and leadership. Through partnerships with government and private industry, our innovative research is translated into practices and policies used in real-word settings. Our research includes security for distributed systems, mobile apps/devices, industrial control systems, and new technologies such as networked medical devices, as well as policies development for securing critical infrastructure and guidance for cybersecurity leadership/governance

Center for Assured Research and Engineering

The Center for Secure Information Systems was created to provide a dedicated environment to encourage the development of expertise in both the theoretical and applied aspects of information systems security. Its scope encompasses information secrecy, integrity, and availability problems in military, civil, and commercial sectors.

Center for Configuration Analytics and Automation

The Center for Configuration Analytics and Automation (CCAA) has been established under the National Science Foundation (NSF) Industry/University Cooperative Research Program (I/UCRC). The center is a multi-university and multi-industry consortium established and led by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in partnership with George Mason University and a broad membership of industry and government organizations.

The goal of the Center is to build the critical mass of inter-disciplinary academic researchers and industry partners for addressing the current and future challenges of configuration analytics and automation to improve service assurability, security and resiliency of enterprise IT systems, cloud/SDN data centers, and cyber-physical systems by applying innovative analytics and automation.

Center for Secure Information Systems

The Center for Secure Information Systems was created to provide a dedicated environment to encourage the development of expertise in both the theoretical and applied aspects of information systems security. Its scope encompasses information secrecy, integrity, and availability problems in military, civil, and commercial sectors.

Center of Excellence for Command, Control, Communications, Computing,, Intelligence, and Cyber

Mason is the nation's first and only civilian university-based entity offering a comprehensive academic and research program in C4I and Cyber Performs research in sensing and fusion, C3 architectures, communications and signal processing, command support and intelligent systems, modeling and simulation, and distributed education and training. Provides a bridge between Volgenau faculty expertise and the needs of government/defense/intelligence information technology users. Conducts active outreach programs to government and industry.

Learning Agents Center

The Learning Agents Center conducts fundamental and experimental research on the development of knowledge-based learning and problem solving agents. The center also supports teaching in the areas of intelligent agents, machine learning, knowledge acquisition, and artificial intelligence. Major research areas include instructable agents, multi-strategy learning and knowledge acquisition, domain modeling, knowledge representation and ontologies, cooperative problem solving, intelligent tutoring systems, and natural language processing.

Rapid Prototyping Research Center

The Rapid Prototyping Research Center (RPRC) focuses on providing its Department of Defense sponsors a unique perspective on rapid prototyping that aligns with Section 804 in the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act. Specifically, rather than developing a new system to satisfy intractable problems on the battlefield, the RPRC integrates new technology into existing infrastructure. This unique approach reduces acquisition costs since the sustainment tail is in place. It also reduces the time to field intractable solutions to the battlefield from 10-14 to 1-3 years and provides assurance that the prototype involved is integrated with the latest technology, not dated technology due to lengthy acquisition delivery timelines. 

Cybersecurity Research Laboratories

Networking and Smiulation Laboratory

This lab is part of the GMU C4I Center -- command, control, communications, computing, computing, intelligence, and cyber. The lab researches distributed multimedia systems for education and training (including virtual simulation). Projects include: 

Battle Management Language: The project started as part of the U.S. Army's Simulation-to-C4I Interoperability Overarching Integrated Product Team. ​
Network Workbench: The project involves network simulation software for academic investigation of Internet concepts.​
EXtensible Modeling and Simulation Framework Overlay Multicast​ (XOM): This project, funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, aims to provide multicast services for real-time modeling and simulation in an open network. 

Living Cyber Innovation Lab (Arlington)

The CCI NoVa Node Living Cyber Innovation Lab will include a 5G testbed for the study of Cyber Physical System (CPS) security research, training, and experiential learning.  

The lab will include autonomous vehicle sensor platforms to study 5G performance and security vulnerabilities. These platforms will support lidar, radar, stereo and night vision cameras that will be deployed on the NoVa Node’s fleet of vehicles to simulate autonomous driving. The vehicles will be used throughout the Northern Virginia Node and may remain in residence at Node partners’ institutions for periods of time to collect data. NoVa Node partners will leverage the NoVa Node 5G testbed in Arlington to analyze data, experiment, and develop new studies. 

The Cyber Living Innovation Lab will include robotic platforms to evaluate 5G performance and security vulnerabilities including the study of 5G’s impact on security of Industry 4.0, and smart manufacturing, and the vulnerability of the supporting power grid.

This facility will also enable students to learn about CPS security, 5G, transportation networks, manufacturing, and power through hands on experience that extends classroom instruction.
Location: Vernon Smith Hall, Arlington

RARE Laborartory

The RARE Laboratory on the Fairfax campus has several Antioch chambers to perform wireless experiments in isolation using Software-Defined Radios (SDR) that run Generalized Frequency Division Multiplexing and many vehicular networking protocols. The laboratory has sensor suites of RADARS, stereo and thermal cameras, and LIDARS that can be positioned on connected vehicle infrastructure.

SDR Laboratory

The SDR Laboratory developed by Professors Jabbari, Mark, Bernd-Peter Paris, Pathak, and Zeng have SDRs that can be pooled to form a local cognitive radio wireless network. This lab also has 60GHz testbeds based on National Instruments Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP) devices and a Vubiq 60 GHz RF front-end.

The Software-Defined Networking Laboratory developed by Professor Songqing Chen has two Software-Defined Networking (SDN) switches: Pica8 P-3297, and Pica8 P-3930.

“I see a tremendous opportunity for computer science in general, and cybersecurity in particular, in Northern Virginia and specifically at Mason. I am very excited by the possibilities opened up by the recently announced School of Computing at Mason, as well as the new cybersecurity department within the Volgenau School of Engineering.”

— Jonathan Katz, Eminent Scholar in Cybersecurity, Volgenau School of Engineering

Pioneering Programs and Faculty

Volgenau School of Engineering

Cybersecurity: Mason Engineering holds one of the longest track records of cybersecuraity in the nation. Our location makes us an incubator for the newest networks, systems, and trained experts. Students take courses that provide theoretical and practical knowledge of all aspects of the field. Mason proactively pursues research within government and industry organizations that depend on strong and reliable information security, and our students are recruited long before graduation.