[Cs-affiliates] visits this week - Wednesday (today), and Friday

Devits, Christopher R cdevits at bu.edu
Wed Mar 15 08:33:57 EDT 2017

Good Snowy Wednesday Morning Faculty and Students,

A friendly reminder that today’s guest, Roya Ensafi, will have her talk at 11:00AM in the Hariri Institute seminar room, and our student meeting will be at 4:30 in the Hariri Fishbowl conference room.



Presenter: Roya Ensafi
Date + time: Wednesday March 15, 11:00AM
Location: Hariri Institute Seminar Room

Title: Safeguarding Users from Adversarial Networks
Abstract: ISPs and governments are increasingly interfering with users’ online activities, through behaviors that range from censorship and surveillance to content injection, traffic throttling, and violations of net neutrality. My research aims to safeguard users from network interference by building tools to measure, understand, and defend against it. In this talk I will present Spooky Scan, a measurement technique based on TCP/IP side channels that remotely detects specific types of interference almost anywhere on the Internet. In contrast to previous approaches—which rely on volunteers in censored regions to deploy custom hardware or software—Spooky Scan achieves significantly better coverage, lower costs, and reduced risk to volunteers. I am working to deploy Spooky Scan and related techniques in Censored Planet, a system for continuously monitoring global Internet censorship.

I will also describe two studies on the Great Firewall of China (GFW). The first study explores how the GFW finds hidden circumvention tools; the second discovered a new packet injection attack carried out by the GFW. These studies can ultimately inform public policy discussions and improve censorship circumvention tools. By uncovering network interference, we can hold ISPs, governments, and other network intermediaries accountable, and develop better technical approaches for keeping users safe.

Bio: Roya Ensafi is a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University. Her research focuses on security and privacy, with an emphasis on designing techniques and systems to protect users from hostile networks. She won the 2016 Applied Networking Research Prize from the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) for her research on the Great Firewall of China. While earning her Ph.D. at the University of New Mexico, she received the Ph.D. Dissertation Distinction Award, Best Graduate Student Mentor Award, and Sigma Xi Research Excellence Award. She is a native of Birjand, Iran and enjoys climbing, biking, and basketball.

Presenter: Kangjie Lu
Date + time: Friday March 17, 11:00AM
Location: Hariri Institute Seminar Room

Title: Defeating Advanced Memory-Error Exploits by Preventing Information Leaks
Abstract: Widely used systems such as operating systems (OS) are implemented in unsafe programming languages for efficiency. Hence, these foundational systems inherently suffer from a variety of memory errors, and the exploitation of memory errors has become a critical attack vector. The past several years have continuously witnessed critical attacks targeting systems belonging to individuals, enterprises, and government agencies. Two typical goals of these attacks are to leak sensitive data and to control victim systems.

In this talk, I will first present that since modern systems widely deploy memory-layout randomization techniques, leaking a randomized code pointer has become a prerequisite for advanced control attacks such as code-reuse attacks. Therefore, preventing information leaks can be a general defense that not only stops data leaks but also defeats control attacks. Then, I will present two systems I developed, UniSan and ASLR-Guard.  Specifically, UniSan completely eliminates information leaks caused by reading uninitialized variables (the most common cause) in OS kernels, which has triggered extensive discussions in the Linux and GCC development communities, and resulted in many updates in the Linux kernel, the Android kernel, and the GCC compiler. Similarly, to defeat code-reuse attacks, which always require leaking a code pointer in modern systems, ASLR-Guard either prevents code-pointer leaks or renders the leaks useless in deriving the value of code pointers. While automatically and reliably securing complex systems such as OS kernels and web servers, both UniSan and ASLR-Guard impose negligible performance overhead.

Bio: Kangjie Lu is a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His research interests include security and privacy, programming languages, and operating systems. He is particularly interested in automatically uncovering and addressing fundamental security problems, and securing widely used systems while preserving their reliability and efficiency. In addition to papers published in top-tier security conferences (CCS, NDSS, and USENIX Security), his research has resulted in many important updates in the Linux kernel, the Android OS, and Apple’s iOS. During his Ph.D. study, he worked as an intern at NEC Labs America and Samsung Research America, and as a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems (MPI-SWS).

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