Dr. Barbara G. Ryder and 18 CS@VT undergraduate and graduate students attended the Southeast Women in Computing Conference (SEWIC) in Atlanta, Georgia November 13-15. Congratulations to Sorour Ekhtiari Amir who won first place in the Graduate Research Poster category. Her poster is entitled “DASSA: Automatic Segmentation of General Time-Stamped Data Sequences “. Sorour along with Liangzhe Chen and B. Aditya Prakash co-authored the poster. For more information about the conference, please visit SEWIC.
The work of Dr. Ali Butt, computer science associate professor, Hyogi Sim, computer science Ph.D. student and colleagues is featured in the national lab DEIXIS magazine. The AnalyzeThis system deals with the rush of huge data-analysis orders typical in scientific computing.
Dr. Barbara G. Ryder, J. Byron Maupin Professor of Engineering, received the College of Engineering (COE) Diversity Committee Award for her commitment to diversity. Barbara’s work has improved diversity in the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech, region and state. This award is richly deserved and one in which all supporters of inclusion efforts can take pride in. The award was presented by Dr. Bevlee Watford, COE Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, at an AdvanceVT luncheon on November 4, 2015. Barbara said, “I am honored by this award and very much appreciate the CS faculty and staff who have contributed to the department’s recent gains in the gender diversity of its students and faculty (in fall 2015, 16.7% CS majors and 21% CS tenure-track faculty are female).”
AdvanceVT began in 2003 with a grant from the National Science Foundation to promote and enhance the careers of women in academic science and engineering through institutional transformation. Read more about Advance VT here.
Dr. Doug Bowman, professor and CHCI Director, and Mahdi Nabiyouni, computer science PhD Student, co-authored a best paper award at the ICAT-EGVE conference. ICAT-EGVE is the merger of the 25th International Conference on Artificial Reality and Telexistence (ICAT 2015) and the 20th Eurographics Symposium on Virtual Environments (EGVE 2015). The paper is entitled “An Evaluation of the Effects of Hyper-Natural Components of Interaction Fidelity on Locomotion Performance in Virtual Reality”. Mahdi said, “Hyper-natural interaction techniques are intentionally designed to enhance users’ abilities beyond what is possible in the real world. We have developed a locomotion test-bed to compare such hyper-natural techniques to their natural counterparts on a wide range of locomotion tasks for a variety of measures. The results show that the effects of the hyper-natural transfer function was mostly positive, however, hyper-natural techniques designed to provide biomechanical assistance had lower performance and user acceptance than those based on natural walking movements.”
Additional information about the conference can be viewed here.
NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION, Nov. 10, 2015 – An initiative supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) will bring research universities across the southern U.S. into a partnership to develop a Big Data Regional Innovation Hub.
Virginia Tech’s Chang-Tien Lu, associate professor of computer science and associate director of the Discovery Analytics Center, is leading the university’s broad-based collaboration on the project, which will develop public-private partnerships to address big data challenges facing the region.
Students, faculty and guests celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Center for Human Computer Interaction (CHCI) at Virginia Tech on October 16, 2015. The event featured panel discussions, demonstrations, tours and networking opportunities. Special guests included John Carroll (Founding Director and Professor at Penn State University), Doug A. Bowman (Current CHCI Director and Professor at Virginia Tech), and Marybeth Rosson (Founding Member and Professor at Penn State University). HCI research at VT has an even deeper history, starting in 1979, with the pioneering work of VT faculty Rex Harrison and Roger Ehrich in Computer Science and Bob Williges in Industrial and Systems Engineering.
The mission of the CHCI is to advance the scholarship, impact, and reach of human-computer interaction (HCI) research at Virginia Tech through programs that support multi-disciplinary HCI researchers and enhance the international reputation and visibility of Virginia Tech’s HCI research. The Center is a growing trans-disciplinary community of HCI scholars, known worldwide for excellence in research. CHCI works to expand our understanding of the human use of computing technologies and seeks to invent the future in order to make a positive impact on society in diverse application areas.
New research method identifies stealth attacks on complicated computer systems
Blacksburg, Virginia, October XX, 2015 – Imagine millions of lines of instructions. Then try and picture how one extremely tiny anomaly could be found in almost real-time and prevent a cyber security attack.
Called a “program anomaly detection approach,” a trio of Virginia Tech computer scientists have tested their innovation against many real-world attacks. One type of attack is when an adversary is able to remotely access a computer bypassing authentication such as a login screen. A second example of attack is called heap feng shui where attackers hijack the control of a browser by manipulating its memory layout. Another example of attack is called directory harvesting where spammers interact with vulnerable mail servers to steal valid email addresses. The prototype developed by the Virginia Tech scientists proved to be effective and reliable at these types of attacks with a less than 0.01 percent false positive rate.
Their findings are reported today in an invited presentation at the 22nd Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) Conference on Computer and Communications Security, Denver, CO, Oct 12-16, 2015. http://www.sigsac.org/ccs/CCS2015/
“Our work, in collaboration with Naren Ramakrishnan, http://www.cs.vt.edu/user/ramakrishnan is titled, “Unearthing Stealthy Program Attacks Buried in Extremely Long Execution Paths,” said Danfeng (Daphne) Yao, http://www.cs.vt.edu/user/yao associate professor of computer science at Virginia Tech. Xiaokui Shu, a computer science doctoral student of Anqing, China, advised by Yao, was the first author.
“Stealthy attacks buried in long execution paths of a software program cannot be revealed by examining fragments of the path,” Yao, who holds the title of the L-3 Communications Cyber Faculty Fellow of Computer Science, said.
Yao explained, “Modern exploits have manipulation tactics that hide them from existing detection tools. An example is an attacker who overwrites one of the variables before the actual authentication procedure. As a result, the attacker bypasses critical security control and logs in without authentication.”
Over time, these stealthy attacks on computer systems have just become more and more sophisticated.
The Virginia Tech computer scientists’ secret formula in finding a stealth attack is in their algorithms. With specific matrix-based pattern recognition, the three were able to analyze the execution path of a software program and discover correlations among events. “The idea is to profile the program’s behavior, determine how often some events are supposed to occur, and with which other events, and use this information to detect anomalous activity” said Ramakrishnan.
“Because the approach works by analyzing the behavior of computer code, it can be used to study a variety of different attacks” added Yao. Their anomaly detection algorithms were able to detect erratic program behaviors with very low false alarms even when there are complex and diverse execution patterns.
Yao and Ramakrishnan have lengthy portfolios in the study of malicious software and data mining.
In 2014, Yao received a U.S. Army Research Office Young Investigator award to detect anomalies that are caused by system compromises and malicious insiders. This award allowed her to design big data algorithms that focused on discovering logical relations among human activities. In 2010 she won a National Science Foundation CAREER award to develop software that differentiated human-user computer interaction from that of malware, commonly known as malicious software.
Ramakrishnan, who holds the Thomas L. Phillips Professorship of Engineering, directs Virginia Tech’s Discovery Analytics Center http://dac.cs.vt.edu, supported by the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science http://www.ictas.vt.edu . A Distinguished Scientist of the ACM, Ramakrishnan has concentrated his research on data mining, the science of processing massive quantities of data to discover patterns and to produce new insights.
The Office of Naval Research and the Army Research Office supported this new work.