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Google Awards $100K Security Grant to University of California Team

A University of California Santa Barbara cyber-research team has won an unrestricted $100,000 security, privacy and anti-abuse grant award from Google.

Lastline co-founders, including CTO Giovanni Vigna led the research work, “Cybercrime Understanding and Innovative Malware Detection Techniques,” along with a group made up of graduate students from UCSB.

The internet has brought many changes that provide huge benefits, in particular by giving people easy access to information that was previously unavailable, or simply hard to find. Unfortunately, these changes have raised many new challenges in the security of computer systems and the protection of information against unauthorized access and abusive usage.

Google issues grants to those working on a variety of security, privacy and anti-abuse efforts, including access control and information security, networking, operating systems, language design, cryptography, fraud detection and prevention, spam and abuse detection, denial of service, anonymity, privacy-preserving systems, disclosure controls, as well as user interfaces and other human-centered aspects of security and privacy. These security and privacy efforts can cover a broad range of systems, including mobile, cloud, distributed, sensors and embedded systems, and large-scale machine learning.

“There is a different bar that is set in academics that lends itself particularly well in the cybersecurity industry,” said Vigna. “In Silicon Valley, there is this concept of shipping a product which is ‘good enough.’ In academia, the focus is on novel ideas. Only through innovation one can stay ahead of the ever-changing threat landscape.”

This past summer, Vigna also led the Shellphish computer science team to the finals of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)-sponsored Cyber Grand Challenge, in which artificial intelligence autonomous hacking systems competed against one another. Shellphish was one of seven teams that qualified for the finals of the competition, which happened this past August. The team’s autonomous system, Mechanical Phish, placed third at the competition, bringing home a $750,000 cash award.

Photo © Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock.com

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