A Participant in the Cybersecurity Summer Faculty Program Goes On to Win NSF CAREER Award

Qiaoyan Yu

Qiaoyan Yu, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of New Hampshire, recently received a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award for her development of proactive methods of defending the integrity and security of chips, and the news spread quickly throughout Tandon’s community of cybersecurity experts. “While this well-deserved accomplishment is all her own,” Ramesh Karri, a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Tandon and co-founder of NYU’s Center for Cybersecurity (CCS), explained, “we also feel a sense of pride, because the time she spent here as a participant in our Summer Faculty Research and Training Program [funded by the National Science Foundation] had a deep influence on her and helped shape the course of her future work.”

Yu acknowledges the truth of that sentiment, recalling that working with Karri in Brooklyn in 2014 set her on a path towards her current research, which encompasses error control for networks-on-chip, fault-tolerance for many-core systems, and emerging nanoelectronics.

“Unreliable and insecure chips threaten homeland security and citizen safety, especially for the mission-critical applications in the military, government, medical and transportation fields,” she says, explaining the importance of her field. “The outcomes of this project will facilitate the implementation of trustworthy chips for both mission-critical and commercial applications.”

Hardware intellectual property piracy, hardware Trojan insertion, and side-channel analysis attacks, she notes, all increase the concerns about hardware integrity and trust, and security threats at the hardware design stage are typically more difficult to address than those at fabrication and testing stages, as the attacker may have a better view of the applied countermeasures against those attacks, making her development of proactive defense methods especially timely and crucial.

Yu is now preparing her students to be on the frontlines of the battle for hardware security. In both 2015 and 2016 she brought teams to Tandon’s Cyber Security Awareness Week (CSAW), the largest student-run cybersecurity event in the world, where they took part in the Embedded Security Challenge. During the demanding Challenge, contestants exploit the weaknesses of a target system, assess the effectiveness of their hardware security techniques, identify vulnerabilities, and implement effective defense mechanisms. The University of New Hampshire students finished in the top three both years, thanks to Yu’s coaching and enthusiasm.

Everyone at Tandon congratulates Yu on her CAREER Award, looks forward to following the progress of her work, and hopes that she will return to Brooklyn soon to take part in more of our programming.