Robert K. Cunningham

Rob Cunningham

Robert K. Cunningham
Lincoln Laboratory
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Secure Resilient Systems and Technology Group
244 Wood Street
Lexington, MA 02420-9108


Dr. Robert K. Cunningham is the leader of the Secure Resilient Systems and Technology Group and is responsible for initiating and managing research and development programs in cyber resilience and computer security. He also chairs the IEEE Cybersecurity Initiative.

From 1985 to 1987, Dr. Cunningham worked at Raytheon, designing and developing a parallel and distributed operating system for the next-generation weather radar system. After completing his master's degree in 1988, he became a staff member in the Machine Intelligence Group at Lincoln Laboratory, where his research focused on machine learning, digital image processing, and image and video understanding. As part of these efforts, he contributed to early drafts of the real-time message passing interface (MPI/RT) specification. In early 1998, he transferred to the Information Systems Technology Group, where he pursued system security research and development. Initially, he focused on intrusion detection systems that do not require advance knowledge of the method of attack, then broadened his research to consider detection and analysis of malicious software. Most recently, he has been working on protecting systems and data against remote and local attackers, focusing initially on embedded systems and subsequently on cloud systems. Throughout his time at Lincoln Laboratory, he has been interested in evaluating the performance of security systems. Dr. Cunningham has patented security-related technology, presented and published widely, and served as founder and general chair for IEEE Cybersecurity Development (SecDev) Conference, general chair for the International Symposium on Recent Advances in Intrusion Detection (RAID) and the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy (IEEE S&P), and as chair or on program committees for RAID, WORM, IEEE International Symposium on Technologies for homeland Security, and IEEE S&P, among others.

Dr. Cunningham has also served on several national panels and led many national teams. In 2001, Dr. Cunningham led the research working group for the National Security Agency's computer network defense research and technology transition program manager, receiving a commendation for his work from the director. In 2002, he participated in a study for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), developing a research program to detect and quarantine computer worms. In 2004, he was elected to the executive committee of the Institute for Information Protection (I3P), and later that year he was appointed to the executive advisory board for the Advanced Research and Development Activity (ARDA—now IARPA) organization. From 2005 through 2009, Dr. Cunningham managed a large, multi-institution research effort to secure process control systems for the I3P and the Department of Homeland Security. In 2011 and 2012, he served as the Lincoln Laboratory representative to the U.S. Department of Defense's Priority Steering Council on Cyber Security Research and Development. In 2013, he served on the U.S. Army Cyber Materiel Development Strategy Review Panel. In 2015, he was named chair of the IEEE Cybersecurity Initiative. Dr. Cunningham is a Fellow of the IEEE and a member of Sigma Xi.

Dr. Cunningham received an ScB degree in computer engineering from Brown University in 1985, an MS degree in electrical engineering from Boston University in 1988, and a PhD degree in cognitive and neural systems from Boston University in 1998. Since then, he has taken classes in cryptography and leadership from MIT and Harvard Kennedy School, respectively.

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