IARPA Kicks Off Cybersecurity Research Focused on Attackers’ Psychology

IARPA Kicks Off Cybersecurity Research Focused on Attackers’ Psychology

ODNI News Release No. 04-24
February 8, 2024


IARPA Kicks Off Cybersecurity Research Focused on Attackers’ Psychology


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) — the research and development arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — today launched an innovative program that, for the first time, takes aim at the psychology of cyber attackers.

The goal of Reimagining Security with Cyberpsychology-Informed Network Defenses (ReSCIND) is to leverage attackers’ human limitations, such as innate decision-making biases and cognitive vulnerabilities, to disrupt their attacks. While attackers take advantage of human errors, most cyber defenses do not similarly exploit attackers’ cognitive weaknesses — ReSCIND strives to flip this paradigm. By combining traditional cybersecurity practices with the emerging field of cyberpsychology, IARPA is set to engineer a first-of-its-kind cyber technology that makes an attacker’s job that much harder.

“ReSCIND will enable the Intelligence Community’s cyber defenders to penalize attackers with the costs of wasted time and effort, which will delay, and potentially thwart, attacks and more rapidly expose the identities behind them,” said ReSCIND Program Manager, Dr. Kimberly Ferguson-Walter. “This novel approach of focusing on the human behind the attack will significantly enhance our layered cyber defenses.”

Through a competitive Broad Agency Announcement, IARPA awarded ReSCIND research contracts to the following teams:

  • Charles River Analytics, Inc.
  • GrammaTech, Inc.
  • Peraton Labs
  • Raytheon Technologies Research Center
  • SRI International

Test and evaluation work for the program will be performed by the University of Maryland Applied Research Laboratory for Intelligence and Security, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and MITRE.

The ReSCIND program is anticipated to run for nearly four years.

IARPA invests in high-risk, high-payoff research programs to tackle some of the most difficult challenges of the agencies and disciplines in the Intelligence Community. Additional information on IARPA and its research may be found on www.iarpa.gov.