talk: Understanding Social Spammers, Noon Tue 2/24, ITE325

Understanding Social Spammers: A Data Mining Perspective
Xia “Ben” Hu

Computer Science and Engineering
Arizona State University

12:00-1:00 Tuesday, 24 February 2015

With the growing popularity of social media, social spamming has become rampant on all platforms. Many (fake) accounts, known as social spammers, are employed to overwhelm legitimate users with unwanted information. Social spammers are unique due to their coordinated efforts to launch attacks such as distributing ads to generate sales, disseminating pornography and viruses, executing phishing attacks, or simply sabotaging a system’s reputation. In this talk, I will introduce a novel and systematic analysis of social spammers from a data mining perspective to tackle the challenges raised by social media data for spammer detection. Specifically, I will formally define the problem of social spammer detection and discuss the unique properties of social media data that make this problem challenging. By analyzing the two most important types of information, network and content information, I will introduce a unified framework by collectively using heterogeneous information in social media. To tackle the labeling bottleneck in social media, I will show how we can take advantage of the existing information about spam in email, SMS, and on the web for spammer detection in microblogging. I will also present a solution for efficient online processing to handle fast-evolving social spammers.

Xia Hu is a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science and Engineering at Arizona State University, supervised by Professor Huan Liu. His research interests include data mining, machine learning, social network analysis, etc. As a result of his research work, he has published nearly 40 papers in several major academic venues, including WWW, SIGIR, KDD, WSDM, IJCAI, AAAI, CIKM, SDM, etc. One of his papers was selected for the Best Paper Shortlist in WSDM’13. He is the recipient of IEEE “Atluri Award” Scholarship, 2014 ASU’s President’s Award for Innovation, and Faculty Emeriti Fellowship. He has served on program committees for several major conferences such as WWW, IJCAI, SDM and ICWSM, and reviewed for multiple journals, including IEEE TKDE, ACM TOIS and Neurocomputing. His research attracts wide range of external government and industry sponsors, including NSF, ONR, AFOSR, Yahoo!, and Microsoft.

– more information and directions: http://bit.ly/UMBCtalks

Rick Forno discusses cybersecurity on NPR


Last week, health insurance giant Anthem revealed that the personal information of as many as 80 million customers was stolen by hackers. This news came just days before President Obama announced the creation of a new agency to analyze and counter cyber threats. In this hour, we look at Obama’s cybersecurity agenda, and the cyber-security challenges that face users in the coming year.

Joining UMBC’s Cybersecurity Graduate Program Director for this morning’s hour-long discussion were Joseph Marks, Cybersecurity Reporter, Politico Pro (his article on the new cybersecurity center) and Dakota S. Rudesill, Assistant Professor of Law, Moritz College of Law The Ohio State University


MP3 Podcast: Download (Duration: 49:57 — 68.6MB)

talk: Labrou on Studying Internet Latency via TCP Queries to DNS, 1:30pm Fri 2/27

ACM Tech Talk

Studying Internet Latency via TCP Queries to DNS

Dr. Yannis Labrou
Principal Data Architect, Verisign

1:30-2:30pm Friday, 27 February 2015, ITE 456, UMBC

Every day Verisign processes upwards of 100 billion authoritative DNS requests for .COM and .NET from all corners of the earth. The vast majority of these requests are via the UDP protocol. Because UDP is connectionless, it is impossible to passively estimate the latency of the UDP-based requests. A very small percentage of these requests though, are over TCP, thus providing the means to estimate the latency of specific requests and paths for a subset of the hosts that interact with Verisign’s network infrastructure.

In this work, we combine this relatively small number of datapoints from TCP (on the order of a few hundred million per day) with the much larger dataset of all DNS requests. Our focus is the process of data analysis of real world, imperfect data at very large scale with the goals of understanding network latency at an unprecedented magnitude, identifying large volume, high latency clients and improving their latency. We discuss the techniques we used for data selection and analysis and we present the results of a variety of analyses, such as deriving regional and country patterns, estimations for query latency for different countries and network locations, and techniques for identifying high latency clients.

It is important to note that latency results we will report are based on passive measurements from, essentially, the entire Internet. For this experiment we do not have control over the client side — where they are, which software, their configuration, their network congestion. This is significantly different from latency studied in any active measurement infrastructure such as Planet Lab, RIPE Atlas, Thousand Eyes, Catchpoint, etc.


Dr. Yannis Labrou is Principal Data Architect at Verisign Labs where he leads efforts to create value from the wealth of data that Verisign’s operations generate every day. He brings to Verisign 20 years of experience in conceiving, creating and bringing to fruition innovations; combining thinking big with laboring through the pains of materializing ideas. He has done so in an academic environment, at a startup company, while conducting government and DoD/DARPA sponsored research and for a global Fortune 200 company.

Before joining Verisign, Dr. Labrou was a Senior Researcher at Fujitsu Laboratories of America, Director of Technology and member of the executive staff of PowerMarket, an enterprise application software start-up company and a Research Assistant Professor at UMBC. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from UMBC, where his research focused on software agents, and a Diploma in Physics from the University of Athens, Greece. He has authored more than 40 peer-reviewed publications, with almost 4000 citations and he has been awarded 14 patents from the USPTO. His current research focus is data through the entire lifecycle from generation to monetization.

– more information and directions: http://bit.ly/UMBCtalks

ArtBytes hackathon this weekend at the Walters Art Museum


Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum will host ArtBytes 3, its third annual hackathon, this weekend from 6pm Friday to 3pm Sunday. Technology and creative communities will work together at the museum to build programs and applications that enhance the museum experience for visitors. $5,000 in cash prizes will be awarded.

It’s a great opportunity for students to try their hand at helping to conceive, debug and prototype an ideas for the common good. For more information and to register, see the ArtBytes 3 EventBright page.

Rescheduled CMPE Town Hall Meeting

The Fall 2014 CMPE Town Hall Meeting has been rescheduled for Friday, February 13, at 12 noon in ITE 104.  Pizza will be available in the atrium outside ITE 104 at the conclusion of the meeting.

The meeting will have a limited agenda, due to time constraints. A second Town Hall meeting will be happening later in the semester, to address issues such as Capstone and departmental Undergraduate Research opportunities.


  • Welcome and Introductions  — Dr. LaBerge
  • Changes to the CMPE Program — Dr. LaBerge
  • The BS/MS Program — Dr. LaBerge
  • Open forum questions and answers

If you responded to the Google Docs survey in 2015 (as opposed to the form for Fall 2014), please respond to the link below.

To ensure that there is enough pizza, please fill out the following Google Docs form if you plan on attending:

MS defense: Real-time Realistic Rendering of Sunrise and Sunset on the Ocean

MS Thesis Defense

Real-time Realistic Rendering of Sunrise and Sunset on the Ocean

Yuping Zhang

10:00am Monday, 9 February 2015, ENG 005

The aim of this thesis is to study advanced real-time realistic rendering techniques for outdoor natural scenes. Much research has been done for rendering realistic outdoor scenes, such as sky, ocean, terrain, etc. But sunrise and sunset are rarely discussed. Interesting phenomena like the sun mirages during sunset and sunrise could create splendid visual effects.

This thesis presents a method to render sun mirages. It uses precomputed atmospheric refraction profiles for different atmosphere condition and performes ray tracing to render the sun deformation. Combined with other methods, it renders sunrise and sunset on the ocean in real time. It simulates realistic sun mirages, sky color, ocean waves and lighting, which can be useful for realistic scenes in movies, video games or for scientific simulators.

Program Committee: Drs. Marc Olano (Chair), Penny Rheingans, Jian Chen

Postdoc or Research Professor in Computational Photonics

The Computational Photonics Laboratory has one or two post-doctoral/research professor positions available.  Please click for more information: http://www.csee.umbc.edu/?p=18210.


talk: Chaum’s Protocol for Detecting Man-in-the-Middle, 12pm Fri 1/30

Chaum’s Protocol for Detecting Man-in-the-Middle: Explanation,
Demonstration, and Timing Studies for a Text-Messaging Scenario

Prof. Alan T. Sherman
UMBC Cyber Defense Lab

12-1pm Friday, 30 January 2015, ITE 228, UMBC

We explain, demonstrate, and evaluate Chaum’s 2006 protocol for detecting a Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) of text-messaging network communications. MitM attacks pose serious risks to many network communications. Networks often mitigate these risks with robust protocols, such as TLS, which assume some type of public-key infrastructure that provides a mechanism for the authenticated exchange of public keys. By contrast, Chaum’s protocol aims to detect a MitM with minimal assumptions and technology, and in particular without assuming the authenticated exchange of public keys.

Joint work with John Seymour and Akshahraj Kore

CSEE faculty develop wearable systems to monitor sleep quality

CSEE Professors Nilanjan Banerjee, Ryan Robucci and Chintan Patel with Dr. Richard Allen at Johns Hopkins University were awarded a TEDCO Maryland Innovation Initiative grant to develop a wearable system that can non-intrusively monitor sleep quality in a home setting. The grant will fund students in the eclipse cluster. The researchers will work closely with JHU to develop and help commercialize this novel sensor system.

TEDCO is an independent organization that provides entrepreneurial business assistance and seed funding to foster startup companies in Maryland’s innovation economy and support the commercialization of qualified university technologies.

Anupam Joshi responds to SOTU remarks on cybersecurity

Last week President Barack Obama gave his annual State of the Union Address. Not surprisingly, among the things his address touched on was cybersecurity.

CSEE’s Professor Anupam Joshi, director of the UMBC Center for Cybersecurity, was one of nine academics invited by The Conversation to give reactions to particular items mention in the address. His remarks were included in their article, The State of the Union 2015 – a closer look at the president’s ‘ambitious agenda’.

The need for cyberhygiene
Anupam Joshi, University of Maryland Baltimore

The fact that cybersecurity found mention in the president’s SOTU address, among weighty issues like fundamental new approaches to taxation and foreign policy, is a testament to how important this issue is today. From (corporate) espionage and identity theft to financial crimes and ransomware, cyberspace is where sophisticated state, non-state and criminal enterprise actors are now most active.

The president correctly identified that we need to protect cyberspace to reap the benefits of the digital revolution, focusing on greater information sharing to improve security.

Presumably, this refers to passage of proposed legislation to provide targeted liability protection that would enable more information about private sector attacks to reach the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center. Such legislation will enable researchers to have the data to better understand, detect, and deter attacks, but there are also significant issues around privacy and data security that need to be carefully addressed.

Earlier this month, the White House suggested that better tools for law enforcement, newer requirements on reporting data breaches, and support for cybersecurity education are needed.

These are all important, but I would urge a particular focus on significantly expanding cybersecurity education far beyond the typical college-level courses to train cyber defenders.

What we need is a greater awareness of “cyberhygiene” for the average internet user – simple “preventative medicine” tactics to minimize risk for individuals and for us all. Just as kids are taught to wash hands for 20 seconds or be careful around strangers for example, they should be taught to be careful when clicking on links embedded in emails.