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Responsible Conduct of Research Seminar Series

Engin Kirda, Associate Professor, Northeastern University
"Ethical Issues in Cyber Security Research"
Feb. 2, 4 to 6 p.m.
Engineering Sciences Building (ESB) 1001

Abstract: "Cyber-security is an area that has been increasingly gaining attention. The attackers today are more sophisticated than in the past, and there has been a shift from hacking for fun to hacking for profit. Malicious computer programs continue to run rampant across the Internet, and among the myriad forms that modern viruses can assume, so-called botnets represent one of the gravest threats to Internet security. Through the large-scale compromise of vulnerable end hosts, attackers can both violate the confidentiality of sensitive user information --- for instance, banking or social network authentication credentials --- as well as leverage groups of bots as an underground computational platform for performing other illicit activities. Accordingly, a great deal of computer security research has focused on methods for understanding, detecting and mitigating Internet-based attacks.

In the last couple of years, there have been vivid discussions on ethics in computer security research. The challenge still remains to follow a path acceptable for Institutional Review Boards at academic institutions, as well as compatible with ethical guidelines for professional societies or government institutions. At the same time, realistic experiments are the only way to understand attacks in the real-world. Unfortunately, exact guidelines do not exist for computer security research yet. In this talk, I will present and discuss some of the ethics challenges that we face as computer security researchers, and how we deal with them."

Bio: Professor Kirda is an Associate Professor and the holder of the Sy and Laurie Sternberg Chair for Information Assurance at Northeastern University in Boston. Prior to joining NEU, he was faculty in the Networking and Security Department at Institute Eurecom in France, and previously served on the computer science faculty at Technical University of Vienna. Professor Kirda's research focuses on security issues with the potential to affect a large number of people. He is the co-founder and co-director of the International Secure Systems Lab, a collaborative effort of European and U.S. researchers focused on Web security, malware and vulnerability analysis, intrusion detection, and other computer security issues.

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