New Lecture Series Centers on Security Issues

Christian Collberg, a UA professor who recently published a book about software security has launched a lecture series featuring experts on computer security issues.
Oct. 20, 2009
UA faculty member Loukas Lazos is next in the lineup in a new speaker series that is taking an interdisciplinary approach to issues broadly related to security.
UA faculty member Loukas Lazos is next in the lineup in a new speaker series that is taking an interdisciplinary approach to issues broadly related to security.

Shortly after Christian Collberg saw his book on a new branch of software security – which he termed "surreptitious software" – go to print, he launched a lecture series focused on the broader implications of security.

"Surreptitious Software: Obfuscation, Watermarking, and Tamperproofing for Software Protection," written by Collberg, a University of Arizona associate professor of computer science, was co-authored Jasvir Nagra, one of his former students, who is currently a software engineer at Google Inc.

The book details the many theories and techniques used to perform piracy, reverse engineering and to tamper with software, along with the attempts to prevent such act.

The ensuing lecture series is interdisciplinary in nature and includes discussions on security involving software, networks, the gaming industry and governments, among other sectors. The new seminar is part of the UA's Security Group, which was coordinated with a $10,000 grant from Cloakware Inc.

"There are people all over campus who do work that is vaguely security-related," Collberg said.

He pointed out that UA faculty and researchers are studying issues related to terrorism, database protection and network security. Others are aiding law enforcement in investigating documents and records.

The next lecture will be held Friday with Loukas Lazos presenting a talk titled "Dealing with Liars: Misbehavior Identification via Renyi-Ulam Games." A UA assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, Lazos' talk stems from a paper he co-authored that was accepted this year for the SecureComm 2009 international conference held in Greece last month.

Unless otherwise stated, all seminars will be held at 10 a.m. in Room 906 of the Gould-Simpson Building. Other lectures include:

Nov. 6: Young-Jun Son, a UA associate professor in the department of systems and industrial engineering, will present his lecture, "Integrated Human Decision Making and Planning Model under Extended Belief-Desire-Intention Framework: Emergency Evacuation Applications." Son will talk about human decision-making and planning related to evacuation behaviors during crisis situations.

Nov. 20: Saumya Debray, a computer science professor, will speak about "examining software that doesn't want to be examined."

Feb. 18: Gary McGraw of Cigital will speak about attempts to exploit Web-based games. His talk is based on a book of the same title that he co-authored with Greg Hoglund. In the book, the co-authors detail ways that game security works while addressing why such games pose tremendous security problems and how millions of gamers have managed to create billion-dollar virtual industries.

March 26: Chris Demchak, a member of the Cyberspace Policy Research Group within the UA's School of Government and Public Policy, will present her lecture, "Cybersecurity: Emerging Conceptions and Comparative National Organizational and Strategic Responses." Demchak is also affiliated with the Strategic Research Department of the United States Naval War College.

A lecture with Fei-Yue Wang, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a UA systems and industrial engineering faculty member, will be announced at a later date.

Another talk with Bhavani Thuraisingham, a faculty member with the Cyber Security Research Center in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Texas at Dallas, is also being planned. 

All lectures are free and open to the public. And Collberg noted that undergraduate and graduate students are especially encouraged to attend.

As the lecture series continues to develop, Collberg is seeking out experts on the local and national scene from a range of disciplines who can present in the future.

"My goal is to get these people together to start talking to each other with one possible outcome being that we start writing grant proposals together," Collberg said.

"The work is often interdisciplinary in nature and it's necessary to consider not only the technical aspects of solutions but also their legal and social aspects."