On Friday, September 8, the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity hosted a “Research Exchange” at Berkeley’s David Brower Center, a day-long conference focused on showcasing the work of CLTC-funded researchers and encouraging dialogue with external partners, including members of the Center’s new Corporate Membership Program and government.
“This isn’t a traditional academic conference,” explained Professor Steven Weber, CLTC’s Faculty Director, in his opening remarks. “It’s an effort to be super-efficient . . . , where, in a few hours, we can all get a landscape on significant parts of the interesting work that’s going on across campus.”
Throughout the day, CLTC grantees presented research on a spectrum of topics, ranging from brainwave authentication methods and spearphishing detection to encouraging knowledge-sharing among cybersecurity professionals. “Berkeley has an amazing breadth and depth of expertise,” observed Eli Sugarman, who manages the Hewlett Foundation’s Cyber Initiative—one of the anchor funders of the CLTC. “Look at the range of topics the Center is working on, from how to circumvent internet censorship regimes to how you can think about cyber risk. It’s really impressive.”
Sugarman explained that he came to the event to “follow up and learn about all the exciting research projects” that CLTC has funded to date. “It’s really unique in that [the Center] is so interdisciplinary, it’s collaborative with a lot of the key private-sector companies doing work in this space, and [it’s] also really engaged with the policy debate, because at the end of the day the goal here is to build a field of experts to tackle the top challenges facing society.”
One of the main goals of the Research Exchange was to build bridges between the CLTC research community and private-sector partners, including members of the Corporate Membership Program. “At Symantec we believe that cybersecurity is the most important risk of the 21st century, and some of the work that’s happening here at CLTC is dealing with some of the hardest, most intractable, and most important issues as it pertains to cyber risk,” said Pascal Millaire, Vice President and General Manager of the Cyber Insurance Group at Symantec, one of the six companies that has thus far joined the Corporate Membership Program. “It’s really going to be through collaborations with the public sector, private sector, and academia that we get solutions to these really important problems.”
Fostering connections to public policymakers was another driving motivation for the event, and among those in attendance was Rep. Mike Honda, who served in Congress between 2000-2017 (representing Silicon Valley in his final term). “The purpose of the Center is to look into the future and figure out the intersection of technologies, security, and the human experience,” Honda said. “That’s one of the things we have to keep thinking about and expanding upon so we can really make technology humane and understandable—and keep it within our own control. This session today has really been eye-opening. In the arena of policymaking, we’re going to need more staffers who understand the technology, the jargon, the concepts, the applications, and the tension that occurs between technology and the human experience.”
An Exchange in Five Sections
The Research Exchange was divided into five thematic sections, with presentations sequenced by area of interest. The first section, focused on “Security Solutions,” included a presentation Professor John Chuang, who provided an overview of work conducted by the BioSense Lab, which researches the security and privacy implications of devices designed to monitor signals generated by the human body, such as brainwaves, pulse rates, and other signals. Other presentations in this area included “Automatic Program Hardening and Vulnerability Detection Using Deep Learning,” by Professor Dawn Song and Chang Liu, a Postdoctoral Scholar, both from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences.
The second section focused on “Cybersecurity and Behavior,” and included a presentation by Serge Egelman, a Senior Researcher with the International Computer Science Institute, who showed that categorizing Internet users into groups based on their security behaviors can be useful for tailoring security mitigations.
Ashwin J. Mathew, Visiting Scholar in the UC Berkeley School of Information and Internet Infrastructure Researcher with Packet Clearing House, spoke about the importance of face-to-face dialogue (made possible through events like conferences) for promoting trust and community among cybersecurity professionals. And Galen Panger, who recently earned his PhD in the UC Berkeley School of Information, presented his dissertation research focused on how emotion is conveyed on social media.
Following lunch, the third section of the Research Exchange centered on “Cybercrime,” with a presentation on “Cybercrime Science: Understanding Cybercriminal Networks and the Effect of Disruption,” by Sadia Afroz, Research Scientist with the International Computer Science Institute. In addition, Chris Jay Hoofnagle, Adjunct Full Professor in the School of Information and Aniket Kesari, PhD Student in the Department of Jurisprudence and Social Policy, presented research on “Constructing Intermediary Policies to Effectively Deter Financially Motivated Cyber Criminals.”
The fourth section focused on “Cybersecurity and the State,” and included a presentation on “Unpacking ‘Information Sharing’ for an Uncertain Future” by Jim Dempsey, Executive Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology. Following this, Vinod K. Aggarwal, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Berkeley Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Study Center, together with Andrew Reddie, a PhD candidate in Political Science, talked about “Comparative Industrial Policy and Cybersecurity: A Framework for Analysis across Cases.” Also in this area, Xiao Qiang, Adjunct Professor in School of Information, and David Fifield, PhD candidate in Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, presented their work on “Robust Access in Hostile Networks,” focused on enabling internet users behind China’s “Great Firewall” to gain access to the worldwide web. The conference concluded with a series of “lightning talks” by 2017 Grantees.
Following closing remarks by Betsy Cooper, Executive Director of CLTC, the Research Exchange concluded with an informal poster session and networking reception. “[This event has] been an amazing opportunity to share the research that’s been going on at Berkeley with a wide array of people,” Cooper said. “We don’t know of anyone else who hosts a hybrid academic exchange [for] industry and government conversation. This was phenomenal, and we’re super excited for the next steps.”
For more information about CLTC’s industry engagements, including our Corporate Membership Program, click here.