Network Operations and Internet Security @ UChicago

NSF Awards $450k for Data Leak Prevention

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The National Science Foundation has awarded Professor Feamster $450k over three years to develop techniques to control and prevent data leaks and the spread of malware in enterprise networks.

In Deloitte’s recent Global Security Survey, nearly half of the companies surveyed reported some internal security breach; of those, about a third of breaches resulted from viruses or malware, and another third resulted from insider fraud.  The Pedigree project aims to develop mechanisms to control and prevent these data breaches in enterprise networks.  This growing problem begs the need for better techniques for controlling information flow in the network itself.

We are addressing several research challenges. First, we are exploring the appropriate granularity for tainting that preserves semantics without imposing unacceptable memory and performance overhead. Second, we are designing the system to minimize performance overhead on applications. Third, we are exploring translation mechanisms between host-based taints and network-based taints, so that taints carried in network traffic convey meaningful semantics without imposing prohibitive network overhead. The research will result in an information tracking and control system that is deployed in experimental settings (e.g., the Georgia Tech campus network) using the existing and forthcoming programmable switch implementations.

Our writeup of the system demonstration from SIGCOMM 2009 provides more details.  Details on the aware are available at the NSF Web site.

Author: Nick Feamster

Nick Feamster is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at Princeton University. Before joining the faculty at Princeton, he was a professor in the School of Computer Science at Georgia Tech. He received his Ph.D. in Computer science from MIT in 2005, and his S.B. and M.Eng. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT in 2000 and 2001, respectively. His research focuses on many aspects of computer networking and networked systems, including the design, measurement, and analysis of network routing protocols, network operations and security, and anonymous communication systems. In December 2008, he received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for his contributions to cybersecurity, notably spam filtering. His honors include the Technology Review 35 "Top Young Innovators Under 35" award, a Sloan Research Fellowship, the NSF CAREER award, the IBM Faculty Fellowship, and award papers at SIGCOMM 2006 (network-level behavior of spammers), the NSDI 2005 conference (fault detection in router configuration), Usenix Security 2002 (circumventing web censorship using Infranet), and Usenix Security 2001 (web cookie analysis).

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