Xiaojing Liao, and assistant professor of computer science at the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, will be honored at the 25th Association for Computing Machinery Conference on Computer and Communications Security in Toronto Oct. 15-19.
Liao was named runner-up for the 2018 ACM Special Interest Group on Security, Audit and Control (SIGSAC) Doctoral Dissertation Award, which is awarded annually to recognize excellent research by doctoral candidates in the field of computer and information security. Only three honorees—one winner and two runners-up—are named for the prestigious award, which receives nominations from around the world.
“CCS is the top conference in the security research area,” Liao said. “It’s a great honor to receive this award, and it will allow me to promote not only my personal research but the research area of cybercrime in general.”
Liao’s dissertation, “Towards Automatically Evaluating Security Risks and Providing Cyber Intelligence,” focuses on methods to automatically discover text traces left by cybercriminals in their interactions—through web content, forum posts, or other modes of communication—with their targets or in coordinating with other criminals. Systematically analyzing the semantic inconsistency present in the communication between criminals and their targets using Natural Language Processing techniques, in which computers analyze, understand, and derive meaning from human language, can lead to more effective and timely control of cybercrimes through earlier detection.
The text content also will help researchers understand how a cybercrime happens, the perpetrator’s strategies, capabilities, and infrastructure, and even the ecosystem of the underground business.
“For example, when an attacker uses cybertools to exploit vulnerabilities in software, he or she often uses the same semantics,” Liao said. “The Natural Language Processing techniques can be customized to various security settings to detect those semantics and alert users to a possible cyberattack. This kind of research is a promising area. It’s somewhat new, and this award really emphasizes the importance of this research.”
Liao, who earned her Ph.D. from Georgia Tech, joined the security faculty at SICE earlier this year.
“We couldn’t be more proud of Xiaojing to have the importance of her work highlighted at CCS ’18,” said Raj Acharya, dean of SICE. “Being recognized with the SIGSAC Doctoral Dissertation Award is a great honor, and it’s another sign that our faculty in the critical area of security remain on the cutting edge of innovation as we take on the challenge of combating cybercrime.”
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