NYU-Poly Contest Unearths Wealth of Cyber Security Research by Students

Judges Tap 10 Doctoral Candidates as Finalists for Prestigious AT&T Research Award

American universities are stepping up to the urgent work of educating the cyber security elites desperately needed to protect the increasingly digital world, judging by entries to Polytechnic Institute of New York University’s Cyber Security Awareness Week (CSAW).

Forty-six students, representing all the top university cyber security research groups, competed for the prestigious AT&T Award for Best Applied Security Research Paper in NYU-Poly’s Seventh Annual CSAW challenges. To enter, every one already leapt a high academic bar: All were previously accepted by a scholarly conference or journal.

“Cyber security is a relatively new academic field, in which many of the top experts taught themselves,” said Nasir Memon, who heads NYU-Poly’s cyber security program. “This year’s CSAW contestants illustrate the way the field has matured since our first challenge in 2004. Rigorous research is the only way to keep pace with the skyrocketing security needs of our digital society, and the quality and number of entries for the AT&T Award for Best Applied Security Research Paper demonstrate that university students are today among the leaders in the field of cyber security.”

Experts estimate that America has only 1,000 cyber security elites but that it needs 20,000 to 30,000.

Judges this week chose 10 finalists, all doctoral candidates. They will compete October 29, 2010, in the CSAW challenges at NYU-Poly’s Brooklyn campus by presenting their papers to a panel of cyber security professionals. Altogether, more than 300 finalists, from high schools through graduate schools across the continental United States, will test their skills in six different CSAW challenges. Winners will earn cash prizes and scholarships.  CSAW provides the most comprehensive set of cyber contests for students.

NYU-Poly was one of the earliest schools to introduce a cyber security program, receiving National Security Agency (NSA) approval nearly a decade ago. Designated as both a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education and a Center of Academic Excellence in Research by the NSA, the school houses a National Science Foundation-funded Information Systems and Internet Security (ISIS) Laboratory, the nerve center of cyber security research. Under Memon, ISIS students create and run the annual CSAW games.

Team leader for the AT&T Award for Best Applied Security Research Paper is Liyun Li, an NYU-Poly computer science doctoral candidate.

The finalists were chosen from among teams representing 25 different schools:

  • Prithvi Bisht, University of Illinois at Chicago – “No Tamper: Automated Blackbox Detection of Parameter Tampering Opportunities in Web Applications;”
  • Xin Hu, University of Michigan – “Large-Scale Malware Indexing Using Function-Call Graphs;”
  • Lin-Shung Huang, Carnegie Mellon University – “Protecting Browsers from Cross-Origin CSS Attacks;”
  • Nathaniel Husted, Indiana University – “Mobile Location Tracking in Metropolitan Areas: Malnets and Others;”
  • Justin Samuel, University of California, Berkeley – “Survivable Key Compromise in Software Update Systems;”
  • Prateek Saxena, University of California, Berkeley – “A Symbolic Execution Framework for JavaScript;”
  • Abhinav Srivastava, Georgia Institute of Technology – “Automatic Discovery of Parasitic Malware;”
  • Adam Waksman, Columbia University – “Tamper Evident Microprocessors;”
  • Zhi Wang, North Carolina State University – “HyperSafe: A Lightweight Approach to Provide Lifetime Hypervisor Control-Flow Integrity,” and
  • Chao Zhang, NYU-Poly – “I Know Where You Are: Tracking IP mobility on a Massive Scale.”

Judges are Michael J. Geller, vice president of products and technology, LGS; Markus Jakobsson, security researcher; Shari Lawrence Pfleeger, director of research for the Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection, Dartmouth College; Gus de los Reyes, executive director, AT&T Security R&D Center, and Cristina Serban, Lead Member of Technical Staff, AT&T Security R&D Center.


About Polytechnic Institute of New York University

Polytechnic Institute of New York University (formerly Polytechnic University), an affiliate of New York University, is a comprehensive school of engineering, applied sciences, technology and research, and is rooted in a 156-year tradition of invention, innovation and entrepreneurship: i2e. The institution, founded in 1854, is the nation’s second-oldest private engineering school. In addition to its main campus in New York City at MetroTech Center in downtown Brooklyn, it also offers programs at sites throughout the region and around the globe. Globally, NYU-Poly has programs in Israel, China and is an integral part of NYU's campus in Abu Dhabi.