Bridging the Theory and Practice of Cryptography

Mar. 18, 2021 | 12 pm EDT | LINK |

Joseph Jaeger,
University of Washington

SCP Seminal Talk
Presented by the School of Cybersecurity and Privacy

Title: Bridging the Theory and Practice of Cryptography

Abstract: Cryptography is deployed at scale to protect data, both in transit and at rest. However, protocols are often designed or even deployed aiming for security that extends beyond what is formally understood. This talk will cover my efforts to narrow this gap and to provide protocols that are both practical and provably secure.

In my talk I will showcase examples of this from my recent and ongoing research, including how the use of cryptography at scale (e.g. in encrypted messaging apps such as WhatsApp) required new models to address unique threats and how a better understanding of the power of computational resources used by attackers (e.g. computation time and memory usage) enabled me to prove stronger security guarantees for important protocols like TLS.

Bio: Joseph Jaeger is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Washington. He previously received his PhD from UC San Diego. His research interests span a wide range of topics across cryptography and its applications. His work received the Early-Career Best Paper Award at Crypto 2020.

Towards data-driven Internet infrastructure security

Mar. 16, 2021 | 1 pm EDT | LINK |

Cecilia Testart,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

SCP Seminal Talk
Presented by the School of Cybersecurity and Privacy and the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Title: Towards data-driven Internet infrastructure security

Abstract: The Internet infrastructure is critical for online daily life. However, key Internet protocols were not designed to cope with untrustworthy parties, making them vulnerable to misconfigurations and attacks from anywhere in the network. Despite the many proposals by the research community and standardization organizations (IETF) to increase security, little has changed in operational environments. We lack sufficient empirical evidence and the problem space is complex: it involves multiple stakeholders, with different interests and resources, as well as geopolitical challenges. In this talk, I will focus on the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), the Internet global routing protocol. I will present an evidence-based, data-driven approach that advances our understanding of harms linked to BGP design flaws and of the effectiveness of routing security practices. Performing longitudinal analysis of network-level and Internet-wide routing behavior over time, I characterized the routing behavior of serial hijackers, networks that persistently hijack IP address blocks in BGP. Then, using machine learning, I identified over 800 networks in the Internet with similar suspicious behavior. Using a similar approach, I tracked and quantified the impact of operational security practices in BGP, finding that, even if only partially deployed, these practices are able to bring benefits. These studies have revealed malicious behavior occurring in BGP and identified barriers to adoption of security measures. Such insights are crucial for designing effective security protocols and policies that encourage their deployment. The results of this research have been used by industry and researchers for evaluating networks’ reputations and routing practices.

Bio: Cecilia Testart is a Ph.D. candidate in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. She is part of the Advanced Network Architecture group and the Internet Policy Research Initiative, working with David D. Clark. Her doctoral research focuses on securing the Internet’s core protocols, leveraging empirical data-driven approaches to understand the impact of protocol design in security and taking a comprehensive perspective, considering both technical and policy challenges, to improve the current state of the art. Cecilia holds engineering degrees from Universidad de Chile and Ecole Centrale Paris. She also holds a dual-master’s degree in Technology and Policy and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT. Prior to joining MIT, she helped set up the Chilean office of INRIA (the French National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology) and worked for the research lab of the .CL, the Chilean top-level domain. She has interned at Akamai, Microsoft Research, and the OECD. Cecilia’s work on persistent misbehavior in Internet routing received a Distinguished Paper award at the ACM Internet Measurement Conference in 2019, and she was recently selected as a Rising Star in EECS (2020) and a Rising Star in Data Science (2021).

► VIDEO | “Creating, Weaponizing, and Detecting Deep Fakes”

► VIDEO | Friday, March 12th, 2021 | 12:00pm – 1:00pm 

Hany Farid
Professor, University of California, Berkeley 

Cybersecurity Lecture Series
Presented by the School of Cybersecurity and Privacy and the Institute for Information Security and Privacy 


The past few years have seen a startling and troubling rise in the fake-news phenomena in which everyone from individuals to nation-sponsored entities can produce and distribute misinformation. The implications of fake news range from a misinformed public to an existential threat to democracy, and horrific violence. At the same time, recent and rapid advances in machine learning are making it easier than ever to create sophisticated and compelling fake images. videos, and audio recordings, making the fake-news phenomena even more powerful and dangerous. I will provide an overview of the creation of these so-called deep-fakes, and I will describe emerging techniques for detecting them.

Speaker Bio:

Hany Farid is a Professor at the University of California, Berkeley with a joint appointment in Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences and the School of Information. His research focuses on digital forensics, forensic science, misinformation, image analysis, and human perception. He received his undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics from the University of Rochester in 1989, and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997. Following a two-year post-doctoral fellowship in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, he joined the faculty at Dartmouth College in 1999 where he remained until 2019. He is the recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

Age of Deception: Intelligence and Cybersecurity in International Relations

Mar. 11, 2021 | 12 pm EDT | LINK |

Jon R. Lindsay,
University of Toronto

SCP Seminal Talk
Presented by the School of Cybersecurity and Privacy

Title: Toward Automatically Evaluating Security Risks and Providing Cyber Threat Intelligence

Abstract: This talk will provide an overview of a book project in progress entitled, Age of Deception. The book attempts to synthesize a decade of cyber research by arguing that cyber conflict is helpfully understood as intelligence by other means. I will unpack this claim by building on the information practice framework presented in my previous book, Information Technology and Military Power. Intelligence practice is distinguished from other forms of information practice by its reliance on deception and exploitation of common institutions and infrastructures to gain a competitive advantage. Cyberspace is the most complex sociotechnical information system ever built, and cyber conflict is essentially just intelligence competition within it. Yet intelligence as such has become digitized, supersized, and civilianized. I argue that intelligence in any era has a distinct strategic logic that differentiates it from more familiar concepts of peace, war, and coercion. Tradeoffs across these concepts can be used to visualize the evolution of empirical cyber conflict involving the United States, China, Iran, and Russia. I conclude with some counterintuitive strategic implications of an intelligence framework for cybersecurity. 

Bio: Jon R. Lindsay is Assistant Professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. His research explores the impact of emerging technology on global security. He is the author of Information Technology and Military Power (Cornell University Press, 2020), co-editor of Cross-Domain Deterrence: Strategy in an Era of Complexity (Oxford University Press, 2019) and China and Cybersecurity: Espionage, Strategy, and Politics in the Digital Domain(Oxford University Press, 2015), and has published widely in international relations, technology policy, and science studies. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.S. in Computer Science and B.S. in Symbolic Systems from Stanford University. He has also served in the U.S. Navy with operational assignments in Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Event: 21st-Century Cybersecurity: The Critical Role of Critical Languages in Advancing Multilingual and Cross-cultural National Security Approaches, Competencies, and Perspectives

Date(s): March 11, 2021, 9:30 am – 11:00 am

Location: Online

Cost: Free but registration is needed

Atlanta Global Studies Center (AGSC) Collaboratorium series – Spring 2021

21st-Century Cybersecurity: The Critical Role of Critical Languages in Advancing Multilingual and Cross-cultural National Security Approaches, Competencies, and Perspectives

Virtual event REGISTER HERE


Featuring Dr. Mike Nugent, Director of the Defense Language and National Security Education Office (DLNSEO), this panel examines opportunities for innovation and impact in the national security environment leveraging cross-cultural expertise and languages critical to national defense* to foster education and research about cyber security and privacy. Recognizing that successful cyber security and privacy studies in the 21st century must be a multilingual and multicultural space, the event also contextualizes Georgia Tech’s unique interdisciplinary strengths as a STEM-driven institution with nationally recognized language programs and recently founded School of Cybersecurity and Privacy. 

Topics addressed include

  • The future of cyber security in a globally connected world
  • Competencies required for the multilingual cybersecurity field
  • Impactful career preparation for success in multilingual cybersecurity 
  • Critical research areas that bridge languages and security in service of national, industry, and governmental needs
  • Cross-cultural peace studies, national security, and cyber security

    The event will feature a Q&A session. It is free and open to the public with preregistration. 

    *National Security Education Program [NSEP] identifies 60 languages as “Critical Languages” for national security. The School of Modern Languages at Georgia Institute of Technology offers 11 of these languages: Arabic, Chinese, Farsi/Persian, Hebrew, Hindi, Korean, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Swahili, and Wolof. 

Welcome & Introductions: Anna Westerstahl Stenport, Professor of Global Studies; Chair, School of Modern Languages; Founding co-Director, the Atlanta Global Studies Center, Georgia Institute of Technology 


  • Michael Nugent, Ph.D., Director of Defense Language and National Security Education Office (DLNSEO), U.S. Department of Defense 

Roundtable responses:

  • Jenny StrakovskyAssociate Director of Graduate Studies and Career Education, Teaching Faculty of German, School of Modern Languages, Georgia Institute of Technology 
  • Annie Antón, Professor in (and former chair of) the School of Interactive Computing; also serves as the co-chair of the curriculum committee of the School of Cybersecurity and Privacy, Georgia Institute of Technology 
  • Seymour Goodman, Regents Professor and Professor of International Affairs and Computing, Co-Director of the Center of International Strategy, Technology, and Policy in the Sam Nunn School; also serves as the co-chair of the curriculum committee of the School of Cybersecurity and Privacy, Georgia Institute of Technology 

Moderator and concluding remarks: Richard DeMillo, Interim Chair, School of Cybersecurity and Privacy; Charlotte B. And Roger C. Warren Chair of Computing, and Executive Director, Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U), Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta Global Studies Center:

Atlanta Global Studies Center Collaboratorium series:

Atlanta Global Studies Center (AGSC), a partnership of Georgia Institute of Technology and Georgia State University, is funded in part by a US Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center grant.

Toward Automatically Evaluating Security Risks and Providing Cyber Threat Intelligence

Mar. 9, 2021 | 12 pm EDT | LINK |

Xiaojing Liao,
Indiana University Bloomington

SCP Seminal Talk
Presented by the School of Cybersecurity and Privacy

Title: Toward Automatically Evaluating Security Risks and Providing Cyber Threat Intelligence

Abstract: Program security analysis has been studied for decades. Various techniques, such as fuzzing, taint analysis, symbolic execution, have demonstrated their successes in vulnerability assessment. Today, the
availability of a large amount of program semantic data (e.g., manuals, developer documentation, related web content), and the advance of artificial intelligence technologies make it increasingly feasible to simulate human intelligence in understanding program semantics to discover software vulnerability automatically. In this talk, I will discuss my research toward in-depth and systematic semantic supports for automatic vulnerability assessment. Particularly, I will focus on two systems — Advance and Dilution — which automatically analyzes the developer’s guide to infer potential security flaws and API misuse, respectively.

Bio: Xiaojing Liao is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Indiana University Bloomington. Her research interests include data-driven security and privacy, with specific focuses on system security, cybercrime, as well as cyber-physical systems security and privacy. She has published papers on leading system security venues such as S&P (Oakland), Usenix Security, CCS, and NDSS. She is the recipient of the ACM SIGSAC Dissertations Award and NDSS Distinguish Paper Award.

► VIDEO | “War by Other Means”

VIDEO | Friday, March 5th, 2021 | 12:00pm – 1:00pm

Harri Hursti
Co-founder Nordic Innovation Labs  

Cybersecurity Lecture Series
Presented by the School of Cybersecurity and Privacy and the Institute for Information Security and Privacy 


Critical infrastructure, elections, and businesses are facing new trends of attacks. This talk discusses targets and TTP (Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures) of 2020 and explores what to expect for 2021.

Speaker Bio:

Mr. Hursti is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on the topic of electronic voting and critical infrastructure security, having served in all aspects of the industry sector. He is considered an authority on uncovering critical problems in electronic voting systems worldwide. In the last 15 years, Mr. Hursti has pursued this important area out of a sense of duty to his fellow citizens of the world, here are several of his critical findings and projects.

► VIDEO | “Recent Insights from Analysis Users’ Web Browsing Behavior”

VIDEO | Friday, February 26th, 2021 | 12:00pm – 1:00pm |

Yuliia Lut 
Ph.D. Candidate, Columbia University 

Cybersecurity Lecture Series
Presented by the School of Cybersecurity and Privacy,
and the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering


Accurately analyzing and modeling online browsing behavior plays a key role in understanding users and technology interactions. Specifically, understanding whether users have correct perceptions of their browsing behavior will help to identify key features for models of user behavior, which will, in turn, enable realistic-looking synthetic data generation. In this work, we designed and conducted a user experiment to collect browsing behavior data from 32 participants continuously for 14 days. The collected dataset includes URLs of visited websites, actions taken on each website (such as clicking links or typing in a textbox), and timestamps of all activities. Finally, we use this new dataset to empirically address the following questions: (1) Do people have correct perceptions of their level of online behavior? (2) Do people alter their browsing behavior knowing that they are being tracked? (3) How do structural properties of browsing patterns vary across demographic groups?

Speaker Bio:

Yuliia Lut is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research at Columbia University supervised by Dr. Rachel Cummings. Her research interests primarily lie at the intersection of data privacy (differential privacy) and statistics with applications in machine learning. In particular, she works on designing privacy-preserving algorithms for machine learning and statistical models, as well as developing obfuscation techniques for online privacy protection.

► VIDEO |Detecting and Investigating System Intrusions with Provenance Analytics

VIDEO| February 25, 2021 | 11AM EDT

Wajih Hassan,
University of Illinois


Data provenance describes the detailed history of system execution, allowing us to understand how system objects came to exist in their present state and providing means to identify the root cause of system intrusions.

My research leverages provenance analytics to empower system defenders to quickly and effectively detect and investigate malicious behaviors. In this talk, I will first present a provenance-based solution for combating the “Threat Alert Fatigue” problem that currently plagues enterprise security.

Next, I will describe an approach for performing accurate and high-fidelity attack forensics using a novel adaptation of program analysis techniques. I will conclude by discussing the promise of provenance analytics to address open security and auditing problems in complex computing systems and emerging technologies.

Stories of devastating data breaches continue to dominate headlines around the world. Equifax, Target, and Office of Personnel Management are just a few examples of high-profile data breaches over the past decade. Despite a panoply of security products and increasing investment in data security, attackers are continually finding new ways to outsmart defenses to gain access to valuable data, indicating that current security approaches are ineffective.


Wajih Ul Hassan is a doctoral candidate advised by Professor Adam Bates in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on securing complex networked systems by leveraging data provenance approaches and scalable system design. He has collaborated with NEC Labs and Symantec Research Labs to integrate his defensive techniques into commercial security products. He received a Symantec Research Labs Graduate Fellowship, a Young Researcher in Heidelberg Laureate Forum, an RSA Security Scholarship, a Mavis Future Faculty Fellowship, a Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Fellowship, and an ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper Award.

Security and Privacy of Internet Voting in U.S. Elections

Feb. 19, 2021 | 12 pm EDT | LINK |

Michael A. Specter,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cybersecurity Lecture Series
Presented by the Institute for Information Security and
Privacy and the School of Cybersecurity and Privacy

Abstract: Election security is ​hard​–elections themselves are complex socio-technical systems that encompass cryptography, systems security, and public policy. Providing a transparent, safe, and private voting system remains a complicated problem, motivating a number of research papers in both cryptography and systems security.

Unfortunately, COVID-19, overseas voters, and accessibility concerns have forced the U.S. States to increasingly turn to untested forms of Internet voting to facilitate remote participation. Despite these systems’ newfound importance to the democratic process, there has been little public documentation on their security and privacy properties, a problem worsened by voting system vendors’ record of hostility toward independent security research.

In this talk, Specter will present his research evaluating the security of the dominant Internet voting systems currently used in U.S. federal elections. We will present an introduction to cryptography in remote voting, and show how all U.S.-deployed systems suffer from flaws that could easily undermine an election by exposing any voter’s private ballot, changing their vote, or otherwise control the outcome. As a direct result of this work, many states have altered or canceled plans to use these systems. The talk will conclude with a discussion of emerging challenges at the intersection of applied cryptography, systems security, and public policy.

Bio: Michael A. Specter is a Ph.D. candidate in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, advised by Gerry Sussman and Danny Weitzner. He is a member of the Internet Policy Research Initiative, the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project, and a research affiliate with Google’s Android Security and Privacy Team. Specter’s doctoral research centers on how to leverage insights from economics, public policy, and law to guide applied cryptography and systems security research. His work has included the discovery of vulnerabilities in ​election​ ​systems​, the development of new cryptographic protocols for ​deniable​ messaging, the analysis of law enforcement’s proposals to regulate encryption​, and improvements to Google’s Linux kernel fuzzer ​Syzkaller​. Specter is a recipient of the ​EFF Pioneer Award​ and the M3AAWG JD Falk Award, and his work has been featured in ​The New York Times​, ​The New Yorker​, ​CNN​, ​Vice​, ​Bloomberg​, ​Fortune​, and ​The Economist​. Most recently, he was a contributor to the EFF-led ​Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court on the need to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act​. He has held research internships at both Google and Apple and holds both a master’s in EECS and in Technology Policy from MIT. Prior to embarking on his Ph.D., Specter was a research scientist in MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, a research facility affiliated with the U.S. Air Force, where he focused on operating systems security, vulnerability discovery, and reverse engineering in the interest of national security.