Tag Archives: Stanford University

Student Design Software to Combat Modern Cyber Crime

Deian Stefan, now a graduate student in the computer science department at Stanford University, have developed an authentication framework called “Telling Human and Bot Apart” (TUBA) – a remote biometrics system based on keystroke-dynamics information. The software is able to determine if a file is malicious or not by analyzing the way its creator/programmer have been using  the computer keys. According to the recently graduated computer scientist, the so-called botnet are run by organized cyber criminals.

“Keystroke dynamics is an inexpensive biometric mechanism that has been proven accurate in distinguishing individuals.”

Daphne Yao


One of the serious threats to a user’s computer is a software program that might cause unwanted keystroke sequences to occur in order to hack someone’s identity. This form of an attack is increasing, infecting enterprise and personal computers, and caused by “organized malicious botnet,” according to Daphne Yao, now assistant professor of computer science at Virginia Tech.

To combat the “spoofing attacks,” Yao and her former student, Deian Stefan, now a graduate student in the computer science department at Stanford University, developed an authentication framework called “Telling Human and Bot Apart” (TUBA), a remote biometrics system based on keystroke-dynamics information.

Yao holds a patent on her human-behavior driven malware detection technology, including this keystroke anti-spoofing technique.

Her technology for PC security is currently being transferred to a company.

The license agreement between the company, Rutgers University (Yao’s former institution), and Virginia Tech is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks, according to ScienceDaily.com.

Internet bots are often described as web robots.

They act as software applications that run automated tasks over the internet. Bots usually perform simple and repetitive tasks, but at a much higher rate than would be possible for a human alone. (When used for malicious purposes they are described as malware).

How a botnet infection works

“Keystroke dynamics is an inexpensive biometric mechanism that has been proven accurate in distinguishing individuals,” Yao explains, and most researchers working with keystroke dynamics have focused previously on an attacker being a person.

The uniqueness of Yao and Stefan’s research is they studied how to identify when a computer program designed by a hacker was producing keystroke sequences in order to “spoof” others, they say.

Then they created TUBA to monitor a user’s typing patterns.

Using TUBA, Yao and Stefan tested the keystroke dynamics of 20 individuals, and used the results as a way to authenticate who might be using a computer.

“Our work shows that keystroke dynamics is robust against the synthetic forgery attacks studied, where the attacker draws statistical samples from a pool of available keystroke datasets other than the target,” Yao says.

Yao and Stefan also describe in their paper, “Keystroke-Dynamics Authentication Against Synthetic Forgeries”  – how keystroke dynamics can be used as a tool to identify anomalous activities on a personal computer including activities that can be due to malicious software.

Their work won a best paper award at CollaborateCom ’10, the 6th International Conference on Collaborative Computing, held in Chicago and sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers‘ Computer Society, Create-Net, and the Institute for Computer Sciences.

When The Bots Attack

The 2007 Cyber Attack On Estonia

If you want to bring down a country’s information infrastructure and you don’t want anyone to know who did it, the weapon of choice is a distributed denial of service attack.
Using rented botnet, you can launch hundreds of thousands — even millions — of infobombs at a target, all while maintaining total deniability.
In this hypothetical scenario, a single attack launched by China against the US lasts only a few hours, but a full-scale assault lasting days or weeks could bring an entire modern information economy to its knees.
.
1. Attacker
In this scenario, tension over proposed US legislation to raise tariffs on Chinese imports triggers a crisis. Beijing orders a limited attack on the computer systems of US congress members and corporations that support the bill. Chinese security officials hire criminal bot herders to launch the denial of service attacks. Payments are routed via anonymous services like PayPal (often using branches based in Latin America). Target IP addresses and email accounts (harvested in earlier operations) are distributed through private chat rooms used by criminal hackers. Once the attack is under way, a Chinese media and diplo matic campaign will portray the attackers as cybervigilantes operating on their own.
.
2. Bot Herder
Freelance computer hackers function as the project managers for the DDoS attacks. Typically, a hacker or a syndicate of hackers control one or more giant botnet, worldwide networks that can include 100,000 computers. Each machine has been surreptitiously infected by the bot herder with a bot, a remotely controlled piece of malicious software. Herders usually make their living by renting these networks out for commercial spam, phishing fraud, and denial-of-service extortion. On the bot herder’s signal, his network of bots can launch millions of packets of information toward a single target, overwhelming its defenses and either crashing it or driving its owners to shut it down as a defensive precaution.
.
3. Zombie
Once an ordinary computer is infected by a bot, it becomes one of the unwitting drones that make up a global botnet. When these machines, known as zombies, receive a signal from the bot herder, the bot takes control of its host and sends out multiple packets of information — usually spam — to designated targets. Thanks to the distributed nature of these networks, attacks appear to be coming from random personal computers located all over the world. In this scenario, many will even be from within the US. And if you’re wondering if your PC is infected, detection isn’t easy. Fortunately, new versions of home security software, like Norton AntiBot, are targeting this new strain of malware. But bots keep mutating, so the game is far from over.
.
4. Target
A full-scale DDoS attack meant as an act of war might target military and government servers, civilian email, banks, and phone companies. But in this more likely scenario, the targets are Web sites and email systems of congress members and corporations that support higher trade barriers. These groups blame the Chinese government, but can’t prove it. Nevertheless, targets will be effectively shut down while they undergo security upgrades and damage assessment, inhibiting their ability to work on behalf of the legislation.
(Source: www.wired.com)

Related by The Swapper:

1 Comment

Filed under International Econnomic Politics, National Economic Politics, Technology

The Sun Is Speaking!

Scientists as Stanford University has made an amazing discovery: The sun seems to be communicating with the Earth through radioactive isotopes. They are not yet sure how it’s done, but the radioactive decay of some elements sitting quietly in laboratories on Earth seems to be influenced by activities inside the sun – 93 million miles away!

“If the mystery particle is not a neutrino, it would have to be something we don’t know about; an unknown particle that is also emitted by the sun and has this effect, and that would be even more remarkable.”

Peter Sturrock

Researchers have found an unusual linkage between solar flares and the inner life of radioactive elements on Earth, it has touched off a scientific detective investigation that could end up protecting the lives of space-walking astronauts and maybe rewriting some of the traditional assumptions of physics, the Standford University writes on its website.

It’s a mystery that presented itself unexpectedly: The radioactive decay of some elements sitting quietly in laboratories on Earth seemed to be influenced by activities inside the sun, 93 million miles away.

Researchers from Stanford and Purdue University believe it is. But their explanation of how it happens opens the door to yet another mystery.

There is even an outside chance that this unexpected effect is brought about by a previously unknown particle emitted by the sun.

Remarkable

Peter Sturrock, professor emeritus of applied physics

“That would be truly remarkable,” Peter Sturrock, Stanford professor emeritus of applied physics and an expert on the inner workings of the sun, says in the article on Stanford University’s website.

The story begins, in a sense, in classrooms around the world, where students are taught that the rate of decay of a specific radioactive material is a constant. This concept is relied upon, for example, when anthropologists use carbon-14 to date ancient artifacts and when doctors determine the proper dose of radioactivity to treat a cancer patient.

But that assumption was challenged in an unexpected way by a group of researchers from Purdue University who at the time were more interested in random numbers than nuclear decay.

(Scientists use long strings of random numbers for a variety of calculations, but they are difficult to produce, since the process used to produce the numbers has an influence on the outcome.)

Ephraim Fischbach, a physics professor at Purdue, was looking into the rate of radioactive decay of several isotopes as a possible source of random numbers generated without any human input. (A lump of radioactive cesium-137, for example, may decay at a steady rate overall, but individual atoms within the lump will decay in an unpredictable, random pattern.

The Sun Speaks

On Dec 13, 2006, the sun itself provided a crucial clue, when a solar flare sent a stream of particles and radiation toward Earth.

Purdue nuclear engineer Jere Jenkins, while measuring the decay rate of manganese-54, a short-lived isotope used in medical diagnostics, noticed that the rate dropped slightly during the flare, a decrease that started about a day and a half before the flare.

If this apparent relationship between flares and decay rates proves true, it could lead to a method of predicting solar flares prior to their occurrence, which could help prevent damage to satellites and electric grids, as well as save the lives of astronauts in space.

The decay-rate aberrations that Jenkins noticed occurred during the middle of the night in Indiana – meaning that something produced by the sun had traveled all the way through the Earth to reach Jenkins’ detectors.

What could the flare send forth that could have such an effect?

Jenkins and Fischbach guessed that the culprits in this bit of decay-rate mischief were probably solar neutrinos, the almost weightless particles famous for flying at almost the speed of light through the physical world – humans, rocks, oceans or planets – with virtually no interaction with anything.

Then, in a series of papers published in Astroparticle Physics, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research and Space Science Reviews, Jenkins, Fischbach and their colleagues showed that the observed variations in decay rates were highly unlikely to have come from environmental influences on the detection systems.

“It doesn’t make sense according to conventional ideas,” Fischbach says. Jenkins whimsically adds; “What we’re suggesting is that something that doesn’t really interact with anything is changing something that can’t be changed.”

“It’s an effect that no one yet understands,” Sturrock agrees. “Theorists are starting to say, ‘What’s going on?’ But that’s what the evidence points to. It’s a challenge for the physicists and a challenge for the solar people too.”

“If the mystery particle is not a neutrino, it would have to be something we don’t know about, an unknown particle that is also emitted by the sun and has this effect, and that would be even more remarkable,” Sturrock says.

Read the full post at The Swapper.

Related by the Econotwist:

NASA Discover New Form Of Space Weather; Has Power Of Earthquake

NASA: Solar Tsunami To Hit Earth, Tuesday

Siberian Shaman: 2012 Solar Storms Will Trigger Collapse Of The West

The Earth: A Danger Zone

NASA Prepares For Impact – Nasty Space Weather Ahead

When Will God Destroy Our Money?

Sun Spots To Cool Down The Markets?

*

Anti Spam

Enhanced by Zemanta

4 Comments

Filed under International Econnomic Politics

The Sun Is Speaking!

Scientists as Stanford University has made an amazing discovery: The sun seems to be communicating with the Earth through radioactive isotopes. They are not yet sure how it’s done, but the radioactive decay of some elements sitting quietly in laboratories on Earth seemed to be influenced by activities inside the sun – 93 million miles away!

“If the mystery particle is not a neutrino, it would have to be something we don’t know about; an unknown particle that is also emitted by the sun and has this effect, and that would be even more remarkable.”

Peter Sturrock


Researchers have found an unusual linkage between solar flares and the inner life of radioactive elements on Earth, it has touched off a scientific detective investigation that could end up protecting the lives of space-walking astronauts and maybe rewriting some of the traditional assumptions of physics, the Standford University writes on its website.

It’s a mystery that presented itself unexpectedly: The radioactive decay of some elements sitting quietly in laboratories on Earth seemed to be influenced by activities inside the sun, 93 million miles away.

Researchers from Stanford and Purdue University believe it is. But their explanation of how it happens opens the door to yet another mystery.

There is even an outside chance that this unexpected effect is brought about by a previously unknown particle emitted by the sun.

Remarkable

Peter Sturrock, professor emeritus of applied physics

“That would be truly remarkable,” Peter Sturrock, Stanford professor emeritus of applied physics and an expert on the inner workings of the sun, says in the article on Stanford University’s website.

The story begins, in a sense, in classrooms around the world, where students are taught that the rate of decay of a specific radioactive material is a constant. This concept is relied upon, for example, when anthropologists use carbon-14 to date ancient artifacts and when doctors determine the proper dose of radioactivity to treat a cancer patient.

But that assumption was challenged in an unexpected way by a group of researchers from Purdue University who at the time were more interested in random numbers than nuclear decay.

(Scientists use long strings of random numbers for a variety of calculations, but they are difficult to produce, since the process used to produce the numbers has an influence on the outcome.)

Ephraim Fischbach, a physics professor at Purdue, was looking into the rate of radioactive decay of several isotopes as a possible source of random numbers generated without any human input. (A lump of radioactive cesium-137, for example, may decay at a steady rate overall, but individual atoms within the lump will decay in an unpredictable, random pattern.

Thus the timing of the random ticks of a Geiger counter placed near the cesium might be used to generate random numbers.)

As the researchers pored through published data on specific isotopes, they found disagreement in the measured decay rates – odd for supposed physical constants.

Checking data collected at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island and the Federal Physical and Technical Institute in Germany, they came across something even more surprising: long-term observation of the decay rate of silicon-32 and radium-226 seemed to show a small seasonal variation.

The decay rate was ever so slightly faster in winter than in summer.

Was this fluctuation real, or was it merely a glitch in the equipment used to measure the decay, induced by the change of seasons, with the accompanying changes in temperature and humidity?

“Everyone thought it must be due to experimental mistakes, because we’re all brought up to believe that decay rates are constant,” Sturrock says.

The Sun Speaks

On Dec 13, 2006, the sun itself provided a crucial clue, when a solar flare sent a stream of particles and radiation toward Earth.

Purdue nuclear engineer Jere Jenkins, while measuring the decay rate of manganese-54, a short-lived isotope used in medical diagnostics, noticed that the rate dropped slightly during the flare, a decrease that started about a day and a half before the flare.

If this apparent relationship between flares and decay rates proves true, it could lead to a method of predicting solar flares prior to their occurrence, which could help prevent damage to satellites and electric grids, as well as save the lives of astronauts in space.

The decay-rate aberrations that Jenkins noticed occurred during the middle of the night in Indiana – meaning that something produced by the sun had traveled all the way through the Earth to reach Jenkins’ detectors.

What could the flare send forth that could have such an effect?

Jenkins and Fischbach guessed that the culprits in this bit of decay-rate mischief were probably solar neutrinos, the almost weightless particles famous for flying at almost the speed of light through the physical world – humans, rocks, oceans or planets – with virtually no interaction with anything.

Then, in a series of papers published in Astroparticle Physics, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research and Space Science Reviews, Jenkins, Fischbach and their colleagues showed that the observed variations in decay rates were highly unlikely to have come from environmental influences on the detection systems.

Reason For Suspicion

Their findings strengthened the argument that the strange swings in decay rates were caused by neutrinos from the sun. The swings seemed to be in synch with the Earth’s elliptical orbit, with the decay rates oscillating as the Earth came closer to the sun (where it would be exposed to more neutrinos) and then moving away.

So there was good reason to suspect the sun, but could it be proved?

Enter Peter Sturrock, Stanford professor emeritus of applied physics and an expert on the inner workings of the sun. While on a visit to the National Solar Observatory in Arizona, Sturrock was handed copies of the scientific journal articles written by the Purdue researchers.

Sturrock knew from long experience that the intensity of the barrage of neutrinos the sun continuously sends racing toward Earth varies on a regular basis as the sun itself revolves and shows a different face, like a slower version of the revolving light on a police car.

His advice to Purdue: Look for evidence that the changes in radioactive decay on Earth vary with the rotation of the sun.

“That’s what I suggested. And that’s what we have done.”

A surprise

Going back to take another look at the decay data from the Brookhaven lab, the researchers found a recurring pattern of 33 days.

It was a bit of a surprise, given that most solar observations show a pattern of about 28 days – the rotation rate of the surface of the sun.

The explanation? The core of the sun – where nuclear reactions produce neutrinos – apparently spins more slowly than the surface we see.

“It may seem counter-intuitive, but it looks as if the core rotates more slowly than the rest of the sun,” Sturrock says.

“All of the evidence points toward a conclusion that the sun is “communicating” with radioactive isotopes on Earth,” Fischbach says.

But there’s one rather large question left unanswered. No one knows how neutrinos could interact with radioactive materials to change their rate of decay.

“It doesn’t make sense according to conventional ideas,” Fischbach says. Jenkins whimsically adds; “What we’re suggesting is that something that doesn’t really interact with anything is changing something that can’t be changed.”

“It’s an effect that no one yet understands,” Sturrock agrees. “Theorists are starting to say, ‘What’s going on?’ But that’s what the evidence points to. It’s a challenge for the physicists and a challenge for the solar people too.”

“If the mystery particle is not a neutrino, it would have to be something we don’t know about, an unknown particle that is also emitted by the sun and has this effect, and that would be even more remarkable,” Sturrock says.

Original post here.


Related by the Econotwist:

NASA Discover New Form Of Space Weather; Has Power Of Earthquake

NASA: Solar Tsunami To Hit Earth, Tuesday

Siberian Shaman: 2012 Solar Storms Will Trigger Collapse Of The West

The Earth: A Danger Zone

NASA Prepares For Impact – Nasty Space Weather Ahead

When Will God Destroy Our Money?

Sun Spots To Cool Down The Markets?

2 Comments

Filed under Philosophy