Computer Science Assistant Professor Junfeng Yang has received the Young Investigator Research Program award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and its Program for Information Operations and Security. The award honors and supports scientists and engineers who show exceptional ability and promise for conducting basic research.
Junfeng will investigate concurrency attacks and defenses. Nowadays multithreaded programs power almost all web services such as Facebook, Google, and iCloud and many applications such as Microsoft Office and Google Chrome Browser. Yet these programs are plagued with subtle but serious concurrency vulnerabilities such as race conditions. Just as vulnerabilities in sequential programs can lead to security exploits, concurrency vulnerabilities can also be exploited by attackers to steal private information such as credit card numbers, send spams, etc.
Concurrency attacks targeting these vulnerabilities are impending, yet few existing defense techniques can deal with concurrency vulnerabilities. In fact, many of the traditional defense techniques are rendered unsafe by concurrency vulnerabilities.
The objective of this project is to take a holistic approach to creating novel program analysis/protection techniques and a system called DASH to secure multithreaded programs and harden traditional defense techniques in a concurrent environment. This award will provide Prof. Yang the necessary funding and resources to carry out the proposed research and make broad impact. The greatest impact of this project will be drastically improved software security and reliability, benefiting the Nation’s cyber infrastructure.