Adam Waksman knows the battle for the control of cyberspace is typically fought between criminal organizations, hackers and the scientists, researchers and programmers who defend the security of computers and the World Wide Web. Every year criminals want data, money accounts or passwords and they get increasingly creative in the technology they employ. Fortunately the good guys get smarter too.
The bad guys operate in the shadows and dark net to avoid detection. The good guys share their knowledge in the hopes their combined efforts will give them an advantage. Once such place where good guys gather was the ACM 2013 International Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CSS 2013) in Berlin, Germany.
According to their website the ACM CSS 2013 is “the flagship annual conference of the Special Interest Group on Security, Audit and Control (SIGSAC) of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).” The conference brings together the various disciplines involved in keeping computers and the internet free (most of the time) of the bugs that can create chaos.
The ACM International Conference brought the ideas and people that make our increasingly technological society operating. They included information security researchers, practitioners, developers and the powers that be from government and industry. CSS 2013 explored cutting-edge ideas, providing an environment for intellectual discussion and most important, results.
As always CSS 2013 was a sum of more than just the bits and bytes by paying tribute to the outstanding people behind the technology, including Adam Waksman.
Every year the CSS honors innovation in computing security with the Best Student Paper Award. This year the Award was presented to Adam Waksman for the paper "FANCI: Identification of Stealthy Malicious Logic Using Boolean Functional Analysis,” Waksman shared the award with undergraduate research assistant Matthew Suozzo, as well as professor and adviser Simha Sethumadhavan, of Columbia University.
The paper documented how FANCI, offers a way for hardware development companies, industry and government to incorporate third-party intellectual property with increased trust. Trust is increased by providing an automatic analysis algorithm while identifying hidden malicious logic. This logic is most commonly referred to as backdoors or trojans.
Trust is a difficult commodity in most aspects of life and amplified when the trust extends over diverse and necessarily competing interests of intellectual property. The paper by Adam Waksman and team documented a more digital concept of trust.
This year at CSS 2013 computer hardware security, including frontline hardware support for software played a more important part of the Conference. Like a dog scratching off a flea an innovative concept of attacking a malicious digital bug is to let the machine do the scratching before the bug infects the server.
A full session was devoted to hardware as an emerging security technology as well as papers presented on camouflaging, hardware fat pointers and invasive silicon analysis. CSS 2013 was a gathering for like-minded people sharing ideas, research and papers. More than that, CSS 2013 was a place to create the more personal trust of meeting someone.
Computer security experts benefit when they meet in person. As the industry becomes more sophisticated and technology evolves, it is comforting to know there are places that protect users from an attack by the bad guys.