A Look Back at Georgia Tech Cybersecurity in 2017

Atlanta    December 13, 2017

In the field of cybersecurity, 2017 was a year to remember that left computer scientists with no shortage of challenges to address.  As one of 12 interdisciplinary research institutes at Georgia Tech, the Institute for Information Security & Privacy acted across a three-pronged mission to activate cybersecurity partnerships that would elevate educationresearch, and commercialization to new heights.

Concerns about 2016’s presidential election saw continued examination throughout the new year, while “fake news” gained cognizance among the public, journalists, advertisers, and those at the very top of global content distributors, such as Facebook. The scope of data breaches grew to affect the very motherload of personal data – credit bureaus – in a devastating attack on Equifax that is likely to bring significant changes to business risk management and individual consumer protection.

Here at Georgia Tech, 2017 also was a year to remember as new partnerships formed, significant achievements were made, and foundations were laid for future impact. A new, three-track Master of Science in Cybersecurity degree launched across three colleges at Georgia Tech to bring more students into the field. At multiple international conferences, Georgia Tech graduate students arrived with more accepted research than any other institution worldwide. Large, interdisciplinary projects with Intel, the U.S. Department of Defense, and Georgia Tech faculty began to release findings. The IISP’s entrepreneurial and commercialization program added new partnerships with VentureLab and Create-X that grew the “Demo Day Finale” prize pool more than ten-fold to $125,000 -- just one more way Georgia Tech worked to move good ideas into the marketplace. In May, Congressional representatives turned to Georgia Tech for conversation around proposed cyberdefense legislation. In September, nearly 300 guests convened for a day-long summit about the essential topic of cyber attribution – how to objectively determine who was behind an attack, techniques to identify criminals, and the policies needed to bring justice.

Cybersecurity research awards to Georgia Tech are expected to exceed $100 million in the fiscal period ending June 30, 2018. The coming calendar year will see additional investment into attribution and network security, as well as new collaboration with business leaders to expand degree delivery and produce more cybersecurity graduates. We look forward to working with you in the coming year as we create the next cybersecurity solutions together.

Until then, happy holidays from all of us at the Institute for Information Security & Privacy. 

Sincerely,

Michael Farrell, co-director; chief strategist, Cybersecurity, Information Protection, and Hardware Evaluation Research (CIPHER) Laboratory at Georgia Tech Research Institute
Wenke Lee, co-director; professor of computer science and John P. Imlay, Jr. Chair of Software, College of Computing at Georgia Tech

 


Partnership  |  Education  |  Research  |  Commercialization


 

Cybersecurity Partnership

Georgia Tech Cyber Security Summit Examines Attribution
Stewart A. Baker -- attorney, podcaster, and first assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security -- delivered the keynote address at the 15th Annual Georgia Tech Cyber Security Summit in Atlanta, describing the challenges of attribution now and why he believes 2017 could be a turning point. Faculty and Ph.D. students presented five projects that are advancing the field. The free event annually convenes industry, government, and academia in an effort to improve public education about cyberdefense and generate new alliances.
 

RSA Conference 2017 Showcases Georgia Tech

Three Georgia Tech students were honored at the largest industry event of the year -- RSA Conference 2017 -- as "RSA Security Scholars." They were among a hand-selected group of 60 collegiate attendees hosted by the conference and given a chance to exhibit their cybersecurity work. Attending were Ph.D. Students Carter Yagemann, Marie Le Pichon, and David Formby. Read about Formby's presentation in TechRepublic.com: RSA Conference: New Ransomware Could Poison Your Town's Water Supply If You Don't Pay Up‚Äč

 

Cyber MayDay: A Bipartisan Approach to Cyber
Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) gathered feedback from Georgia Tech researchers and the Atlanta business community about proposed “hack back” legislation. Nearly 100 guests provided insight during a 90-minute conversation that shaped substantial draft revisions. 
 

 

Georgia Tech Contributes to New National Technology Security Coalition
Headquartered in Atlanta, the new National Technology Security Coalition aims to be a voice for chief information security officers who want to define new best practices for every business affected by cyber insecurity. Georgia Tech faculty at the IISP, especially Peter Swire and Milton Mueller, contributed objective insight at NTSC's regional roundtables and national meetings as members develop new guidelines for their profession. 

 

Cybersecurity Education

Information Security Degree Expands
Students can pursue a specialization in cybersecurity public policy under the Policy Track offered by the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, now that Georgia Tech’s information security degree has expanded outside of the College of Computing. The interdisciplinary Master of Science in Cybersecurity degree prepares to launch more tracks and options in 2018.


 

Georgia Tech Students Sweep NSA Codebreaker Challenge
Students from the Georgia Institute of Technology placed first in the National Security Agency (NSA)’s “2016 Codebreaker Challenge,” beating 480 other universities in a hacking contest designed to give students a realistic glimpse of nation-state cybersecurity. Teaching assistants Wen Xu and Insu Yun completed all six rounds and led graduate students through the challenge as a class exercise under Assistant Professor Taesoo Kim.
 

IISP Cybersecurity Fellowship Provides Funds
Students representing the Schools of Computer Science, Interactive Computing, Electrical & Computer Engineering, and Public Policy received more than $18,000 in additional research funding from the IISP to support emerging cybersecurity ideas.

 

Cybersecurity Research

New Research with Government and Fortune 100 Partners Reaches Early Milestones
Large interdisciplinary, research projects with Intel, the U.S. Department of Defense, and Georgia Tech faculty began to produce findings. Included among them were the Intel Science & Technology Center for machine learning cybersecurity, "Rhamnousia" for the U.S. Department of Defense, Cross-Border Requests for Data Project, and others. As a result of extensive research into Intel SGX (software guard extensions), Georgia Tech Assistant Professor Taesoo Kim and his students were invited to company headquarters to explain the vulnerabilities they discovered to Intel's engineering team.

Additional findings can be found under the conference links below.

USENIX Security: Georgia Tech Leads in Volume at USENIX Security 2017
Georgia Tech presented more discoveries than any other organization worldwide at the highly competitive USENIX Security conference, which has an acceptance rate of just 16.3 percent. Findings included collaborative work about the Mirai Botnet, malicious use of Adobe PDF in cyberattacks, techniques for control-flow integrity, and more.

ACM CCS: Georgia Tech Leads in Volume at ACM CCS 2017   
Out of 836 cybersecurity research papers submitted by universities and technology giants such as Microsoft and Google, just 18 percent were accepted into the international ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS) conference. Georgia Tech led them all with eight papers, matched only by Cornell University and Cornell Tech when combined.

NDSS '17: Georgia Tech Brings Five Research Discoveries
Students and faculty unveiled a new method for location privacy in mobile devices, a vulnerability that lets cyberattackers control more than 91 percent of an operating system, a safeguard that secretly bootstraps memory space to protect against corruption attacks, and more.

IEEE SS&P: Android Vulnerabilities, IP Blacklists, Malware and More
Georgia Tech was one of five universities worldwide with the most research accepted into the peer-reviewed IEEE Symposium on Security & Privacy. Work included a new Android vulnerability that can hijack a user’s graphic interface; a large-scale study of the underground business strategy behind IP blacklists, and a discovery that for the vast majority of malware, network traffic provides the earliest indicator of infection.

 

Cybersecurity Commercialization

Demo Day Program Boosts Tech Transfer
Cybersecurity students were encouraged throughout 2017 to pursue commercialization -- enticed with entrepreneurial coaching and start-up cash. Five teams presented cybersecurity ideas for tech transfer at the Spring ’17 “IISP Cybersecurity Demo Day Finale.” A method for detecting malware with electromagnetic emanations (by Georgia Tech's Rob Callan, a post-doctoral researcher, and Ph.D. Student Farnaz Behrang) won $5,000. A suite of software tools for ransomware detection in industrial controls (by Ph.D. Candidate David Formby) also collected $5,000 as the 2nd Place and People’s Choice winner. Meanwhile, Atlanta-based start-up Fraudscope (winner of the 2016 Demo Day Finale) continued to advance; Fraudscope announced $1.5 million in seed funding to tackle U.S. healthcare fraud.

The quick success of the IISP's Demo Day program has led to an expanded prize pool – now worth $125,000 up from $10,000. Incubator Create-X now awards “golden ticket” fast-track access to cybersecurity students who want to commercialize, while Venture Lab coaches students to enter the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps program.
 

 

 


Captions

1. Students exhibit cybersecurity research for possible commercialization during Phase I of the IISP Cybersecurity Demo Day program, held Sept. 27, 2017.

2. Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) gathered feedback from Georgia Tech researchers and the Atlanta business community on May 1, 2017 about proposed “hack back” legislation.

3. Chris M. Roberts, a senior research engineer for the CIPHER Lab, examines a motherboard for malicious irregularities at one of the Georgia Tech Research Institute's classified workspaces for reverse engineering.

4. Stewart A. Baker -- attorney, podcaster, and first assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security -- proposed that 2017 will be recognized as a turning point for attribution while delivering his keynote address at the 15th Annual Georgia Tech Cyber Security Summit in Atlanta, on Sept. 27, 2017.

5. Two students -- Timour Wehbe and Stacey Truex -- received research funding from the IISP as the inaugural Cybersecurity Fellows during the Spring '17 semester.

6. Peter Swire, associate director of policy, explains that if we don't achieve clarity on how to share data between organizations, law enforcement will push for other hacking tools. Shown here during the 15th Annual Georgia Tech Cyber Security Summit in Atlanta, on Sept. 27, 2017.

7. Mascot Buzz raced to an end-of-the-semester celebration for Georgia Tech students.

8. Raheem Beyah, chair of the School of Electrical & Computer Engineering, developed a technique to help ensure 3D printers are not compromised by cyberattack.

9. Ph.D. Student Weiren Wang works in one of Georgia Tech's 12 cybersecurity labs and centers.

10. Ph.D. Student Stacey Truex exhibited her research at the 15th Annual Georgia Tech Cyber Security Summit in Atlanta, on Sept. 27, 2017.

11. Holly Dragoo, research associate with the CIPHER Lab at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, was one of 28 presenters at the Cybersecurity Lecture Series, held each Friday during the semester.

12. Manos Antonakakis, associate director of attribution, is one of two faculty leading a $17-million cyber attribution research project for the U.S. Department of Defense. He shared early insights at the 15th Annual Georgia Tech Cyber Security Summit in Atlanta, on Sept. 27, 2017.

13. The malware bank at Georgia Tech Research Institute collected more than 250,000 samples of malware each day and provided analysis to industry and government partners.

14. Nearly 20 student teams submitted research for the IISP Cybersecurity Demo Day program. Upon completing entrepreneurial coaching at the end of the school year, winners will be chosen to receive prizes valued at up to $125,000 toward commercialization.

15. Early results from "THEIA," a multi-year project for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, were released in October 2017 at the ACM CCS conference. The project will provide forensic investigators a detailed record of an intrusion, even if the attackers attempted to cover their tracks.

16. Researchers identified the dangerous trend of "combosquatting" in a project funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Science Foundation, Air Force Research Laboratory/Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Office of Naval Research.

17. Ph.D. Candidate David Formby presented a software suite designed to protect industrial control systems from ransomware at the IISP Cybersecurity Demo Day Finale on April 13, 2017.

18. A method for detecting malware with electromagnetic emanations (by Georgia Tech's Rob Callan, a post-doctoral researcher, and Ph.D. Student Farnaz Behrang) won $5,000 at the IISP Cybersecurity Demo Day Finale on April 13, 2017.

19. Serving as a judge at the IISP Cybersecurity Demo Day Finale on April 13, 2017 was Thiago Olson, managing director of Engage and a venture partner at Tech Square Ventures.

20. Assistant Professor Taesoo Kim and his students were invited to explain vulnerabilities they discovered to Intel's SGX engineering team following a body of research that includes more than six papers on the topic.

21. Teaching assistants Wen Xu and Insu Yun finished first in the National Security Agency's Codebreaker Challenge -- beating more than 480 universities worldwide.

22. A new specialization track for public policy was added to the Master of Science in Cybersecurity degree in May 2017 -- allowing Liberal Arts students to develop a grounding in cybersecurity.

23. Two students -- Leilei Xiong and Karl Grindal -- received research funding from the IISP as Cybersecurity Fellows for the Fall '17 semester.

24. New techniques by Georgia Tech for visualizing data about cyberthreats won the Best Paper Award at the IEEE Symposium on Visualization for Cyber Security (VizSec 2017) in October 2017.

25. Three Georgia Tech students from were honored at the largest industry event of the year -- RSA Conference 2017 -- as "RSA Security Scholars."