Visible to the public 3rd Annual Best Scientific Cybersecurity Paper Competition Awards CeremonyConflict Detection Enabled

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3rd Annual

Best Scientific Cybersecurity Paper Competition

Awards Ceremony

Laurel, MD
10 November 2015

Research paper presentations by a team of academic researchers from four continents, two U.S. groups, and an outstanding high school senior were the order of the day at a special ceremony to recognize the winners of the 3rd Annual Best Scientific Cybersecurity Paper Competition. The scholars were recognized as the winners and two runners-up for Best Paper of 2014. A special presentation by an award-winning Poolesville (Maryland) High School student impressed both academic and government researchers alike.

Dr. Deborah Frincke, Director of Research, NSA Trusted Systems Research Group, welcomed and thanked the researchers for their contributions to the evolving Science of Security. She said, “This work could not have been done ten years ago.” Now there is a rigorous and scientific approach in place that employs higher standards and which, this year, produced more than 50 paper submissions. All of them, she said, “were exceptional.”

Geoffrey Smith presented the 3rd annual competition winner, “Additive and Multiplicative Notions of Leakage and Their Capacities.” Written by mathematicians Mário S. Alvim, Kostas Chatzikokolakis, Annabelle McIver, Carroll Morgan, Catuscia Palamidessi, and Prof. Smith, this paper focused on information flows and theory and proposed leakage measures to set bounds on the amount of information a vulnerability can divulge. They mathematically proved their measures were resistant to limited knowledge of operation conditions and of attackers’ cost benefit calculations, and therefore were robust. They advanced information flow theory and Shannon capacity and g-leakage. This paper was selected for the award for showing strong scientific work and providing needed foundations for information flow and cybersecurity. The researchers have been working together since 2007. They include participants from Australia, Brazil, and France, as well as the United States.

Sauvik Das presented the first paper receiving an honorable mention, “Increasing Security Sensitivity with Social Proof: A Large-Scale Experimental Confirmation,” coauthored by Adam D.I. Kramer, Laura Dabbish, and Jason Hong. They examined ways to motivate individuals to adopt security features by showing information about their friends’ use of the security features. Particularly notable was the volume of participants in this study, 50,000 people, a much larger volume than in many human behavior studies. The work showed scientific merit, analysis, and documents the study results and motivation of both the persons studied and the statistical approaches employed.

The second paper receiving an honorable mention, “Quantitative Evaluation of Dynamic Platform Techniques as a Defensive Mechanism,” was written by Hamed Okhravi, James Riordan, and Kevin Carter. Their research studied the effectiveness of dynamic platforms where programs and computers are often changed as a way to prevent intrusions. They built an experimental testbed for evaluation and also simulated the dynamics. These two approaches led to similar results. The paper was selected for providing scientific analysis of the dynamic platform approach to quantifiably measure increased resistance to compromise. The approach utilized in the paper is applicable as a way to evaluate effectiveness of dynamic platforms, and to help decision making and design choices.

Cherry Zou, a 16 year old senior at Poolesville (Maryland) High School, presented her study titled, “Development of an Authorship Identification Algorithm for Twitter Using Stylometric Techniques.” This project was runner up for a Special Award from the NSA Research Directorate at the Intel Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Stylometrics is a method of using individual writing styles to identify the author. In her study, she looked at Twitter messages and developed an accurate method for identifying authors using short texts. Her approach may apply in cases such as identifying cyberbullies within a single school.

Following the presentations, a lively group discussion and question and answer period ensued, moderated by longtime cybersecurity expert Dr. Carl Landwehr. The big question is whether there is, or can be, a true “science of cybersecurity.” The discussions suggest a consensus that we have come a long way in that direction, but have not yet arrived. Work like that presented at this ceremony demonstrates the depth and rigor of research in this area, and how it has strengthened as it has evolved.

Adam Tagert, Technical Leader for the Science of Security, closed the session with praise for the research and the researchers’ contributions to the advancement of the science of security.

Copies of the papers and a short biography of the researchers are available on the CPS-VO website at: 

(ID#: 15-7671)

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