talk: Towards Hardware Cybersecurity, 11am Tue 2/20, ITE325, UMBC

hardware cybersecurity

Towards Hardware Cybersecurity

Professor Houman Homayoun
George Mason University

11:00am-12:00pm Tuesday, 20 Febuary 2018, ITE 325, UMBC

Electronic system security, trust and reliability has become an increasingly critical area of concern for modern society. Secure hardware systems, platforms, as well as supply chains are critical to industry and government sectors such as national defense, healthcare, transportation, and finance.

Traditionally, authenticity and integrity of data has been protected with various security protocol at the software level with the underlying hardware assumed to be secure, and reliable. This assumption however is no longer true with an increasing number of attacks reported on the hardware. Counterfeiting electronic components, inserting hardware trojans, and cloning integrated circuits are just few out of many malicious byproducts of hardware vulnerabilities, which need to be urgently addressed.

In the first part of this talk I will address the security and vulnerability challenges in the horizontal integrated hardware development process. I will then present the concept of hybrid spin-transfer torque CMOS look up table based design which is our latest effort on developing a cost-effective solution to prevent physical reverse engineering attacks.

In the second part of my talk I will present how information at the hardware level can be used to address some of the major challenges of software security vulnerabilities monitoring and detection methods. I will first discuss these challenges and will then show how the use of data at the hardware architecture level in combination with an effective machine learning based predictor helps protecting systems against various classes of hardware vulnerability attacks.

I will conclude the talk by emphasizing the importance of this emerging area and proposing a research agenda for the future.

Dr. Houman Homayoun is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at George Mason University. He also holds a courtesy appointment with the Department of Computer Science as well as Information Science and Technology Department. He is the director of GMU’s Accelerated, Secure, and Energy-Efficient Computing Laboratory (ASEEC).  Prior to joining GMU, Houman spent two years at the University of California, San Diego, as NSF Computing Innovation (CI) Fellow awarded by the CRA-CCC. Houman graduated in 2010 from University of California, Irvine with a Ph.D. in Computer Science. He was a recipient of the four-year University of California, Irvine Computer Science Department chair fellowship. Houman received the MS degree in computer engineering in 2005 from University of Victoria and BS degree in electrical engineering in 2003 from Sharif University of Technology. Houman conducts research in hardware security and trust, big data computing, and heterogeneous computing, where he has published more than 80 technical papers in the prestigious conferences and journals on the subject. Since 2012 he leads ten research projects, a total of $7.2 million in funding, supported by DARPA, AFRL, NSF, NIST, and GM on the topics of hardware security and trust, big data computing, heterogeneous architectures, and biomedical computing. Houman received the 2016 GLSVLSI conference best paper award for developing a manycore accelerator for wearable biomedical computing. Since 2017 he has been serving as an Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on VLSI. He is currently serving as technical program co-chair of 2018 GLSVLSI conference.

Join the UMBC Creative Coders program and teach kids how to code

Join the UMBC Creative Coders program and teach kids how to code

The Creative Coders program connects middle school students from Arbutus Middle School with computing students at UMBC. Volunteers will work one-on-one with young students to teach them the fundamentals of computer science through game design.

Volunteers may also get this service put on their transcript through PRAC096 or HONR 390 for students in the Honors College. The creative coders group meets from 2:15-4:00 every Tuesday and Thursday.

If you are interested in participating, contact Max Poole at

talk: Nonnegative Binary Matrix Factorization on a D-Wave Quantum Annealer, 1:30 2/15


CHMPR Distinguished Lecture Series

Nonnegative Binary Matrix Factorization
with a D-Wave Quantum Annealer

Dr. Daniel O’Malley
Los Alamos National Laboratory

1:30 15 February 2018, ITE325, UMBC


D-Wave quantum annealers represent a novel computational architecture and have attracted significant interest. Much of this interest has focused on the quantum behavior of D-Wave machines, and there have been few practical algorithms that use the D-Wave. Machine learning has been identified as an area where quantum annealing may be useful. Here, we show that the D-Wave 2X can be effectively used as part of an unsupervised machine learning method. This method takes a matrix as input and produces two low-rank matrices as output — one containing latent features in the data and another matrix describing how the features can be combined to approximately reproduce the input matrix. Despite the limited number of bits in the D-Wave hardware, this method is capable of handling a large input matrix. The D-Wave only limits the rank of the two output matrices. We apply this method to learn the features from a set of facial images and compare the performance of the D-Wave to two classical tools. This method is able to learn facial features and accurately reproduce the set of facial images. The performance of the D-Wave is mixed. It outperforms the two classical codes in a benchmark when only a short amount of computational time is allowed (200-20,000 microseconds), but these results suggest heuristics that would likely outperform the D-Wave in this benchmark.

Daniel O’Malley is a scientist in the Computational Earth Science group at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Prior to that, he held postdoctoral positions at LANL and in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University. He studied at Purdue University, receiving a B.S. degree in computer science and mathematics (2004), an M.S. in mathematics (2006) and a Ph.D. in applied mathematics (2011). His research interests include computational science (with an emphasis on subsurface flow and transport), quantum computing, uncertainty quantification, and machine learning. He has won numerous awards including a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellowship from LANL (2014), the InterPore-Fraunhofer Award for Young Researchers from the International Society for Porous Media (2012), a Charles C. Chappelle Fellowship from Purdue University (2004), and the Meyer E. Jerison Memorial Award in Analysis from the Department of Mathematics at Purdue University (2004).

UMBC’s Haibin Zhang shares tips to secure data in the cloud

UMBC’s Haibin Zhang shares tips to secure data in the cloud

As more consumers rely on cloud-based data storage for everything from family photos to financial information, both experts and general users have voiced concerns about cloud security. In a new Conversation article recently published by Scientific American, Haibin Zhang, assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering, explains precautions consumers can take to protect their files in the cloud.

Zhang explains that data stored and secured using commercial cloud storage systems is encrypted, which means that without the key, the information looks like a series of meaningless characters. Encryption keys have the potential to be misused, if they end up in the wrong hands, which can compromise the security of files stored in a cloud.

“Just like regular keys, if someone else has them, they might be stolen or misused without the data owner knowing,” says Zhang. “And some services might have flaws in their security practices that leave users’ data vulnerable.”

Zhang notes that some cloud services allow customers to maintain their encryption key themselves, which give the consumer the control in ensuring that their data remains safe. Other services keep the encryption keys internally and manage the security for their customers. He says that while each option has benefits, it is important to recognize that “some services might have flaws in their security practices that leave users’ data vulnerable.”

To keep data secure in the cloud, Zhang suggests using enhanced security features offered by cloud storage companies and taking additional precautions that are available to individual customers. He recommends that people use a cloud storage service that allows customers to encrypt their data before uploading it for storage, and to rely on services that have been “validated by independent security researchers.”

Read “How secure is your data when it’s stored in the cloud?” in The Conversation for Zhang’s additional recommendations on securing data on the cloud. The piece also appeared in Scientific American, and has so far been read nearly 20,000 times.

Adapted from a UMBC News article by Megan Hanks. Photo by Yuri Samoilov, CC by 2.0.

Free Screenings of the AlphaGo movie at UMBC, 7-9pm Tue 2/13 and 2-4pm Fri 2/16

Free Screenings of the AlphaGo movie at UMBC

UMBC will hold two free, public screenings of the award-winning documentary film AlphaGo, one 7:00-9:00pm Tuesday evening, February 13 and another 2:00-4:00pm Friday, February 16. Both will be held in lecture hall 5 (EMGR 027) in the UMBC Engineering Building (maps: campus, google).  Each screening will be followed by comments and discussion by several faculty members.

AlphaGo is the first computer program to defeat a Go world champion, and arguably the strongest Go player in history. It was developed by DeepMind, a London-based company that specializes in AI and machine learning that was acquired by Google in 2014.

“On March 9, 2016, the worlds of Go and artificial intelligence collided in South Korea for an extraordinary best-of-five-game competition, coined The DeepMind Challenge Match. Hundreds of millions of people around the world watched as a legendary Go master took on an unproven AI challenger for the first time in history…Directed by Greg Kohs with an original score by Academy Award nominee, Hauschka, AlphaGo chronicles a journey from the halls of Oxford, through the backstreets of Bordeaux, past the coding terminals of Google DeepMind in London, and ultimately, to the seven-day tournament in Seoul. As the drama unfolds, more questions emerge: What can artificial intelligence reveal about a 3000-year-old game? What can it teach us about humanity?”

Go has been considered to be one of the most challenging games for AI systems to master because of its enormous search space and the difficulty of evaluating board positions and moves. AlphaGo’s success is especially significant in that it is an example of the powerful new deep learning approaches based on neural networks.

Please join us at one  of the screenings this exciting film and take part in the discussions that follow.

talk: Results of the 2018 SFS Research Study at UMBC, 12pm Fri 2/9, ITE228


The UMBC Cyber Defense Lab presents

Results from the January 2018 SFS Research Study at UMBC

Enis Golaszewski
Department of Information Systems

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

12:00–1:00pm, Friday, 9 February 2018, ITE 228 (or nearby)

January 22-26, 2018, UMBC SFS scholars worked collaboratively to analyze the security of a targeted aspect of the UMBC computer system.  The focus of this year’s study was the WebAdmin module that enables users to perform various functions on their accounts, including changing the password.  Students identified vulnerabilities involving failure to sanitize user input properly and suggested mitigations.  Participants comprised BS, MS, MPS, and PhD students studying computer science, computer engineering, information systems, and cybersecurity, including SFS scholars who transferred from Montgomery College and Prince George’s Community College to complete their four-year degrees at UMBC. We hope that other universities can benefit from our motivational and educational strategy of cooperating with the university’s IT staff to engage students in active project-based learning centering on focused questions about the university computer system.

This project was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under SFS grant 1241576.

Enis Golaszewski () is a PhD student and SFS scholar in computer science working with Dr. Sherman on blockchain, protocol analysis, and the security of software-defined networks.

Host: Alan T. Sherman, 

Global Game Jam, UMBC, 26-28 January 2018

Global Game Jam at UMBC

For the 10th(!) year in a row, UMBC is the Baltimore host site for the Global Game Jam!

Where: Engineering (ENG) building on the UMBC campus
When: 5 PM January 26 – 5 PM January 28, 2018
Cost: Free, but advance registration is required (register at

What is a Game Jam?

In a game jam, participants come together to make a video game. Each participant joins a small team at the jam, and over a couple of day period creates a new, unique and creative video game according to the rules of the jam.

Game Jams are a great way to meet other developers, beef up your resume, or just learn what it takes to make a game. Teams need designers who can come up with a creative game idea according to the jam constraints, artists, programmers and testers, so there is something to do for participants at all levels of experience.

So what is the Global Game Jam?

The Global Game Jam takes place in the same 48 hours all over the world! The first year there were 53 host sites in the US, Canada, Brazil, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Turkey, Wales, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Last year had hundreds of host sites across the world.

The Global Game Jam will start 5 PM local time Friday, January 26th and end 5 PM local time Sunday, January 28th, 2018. All participants in the Global Game Jam will be constrained by the same theme and set of rules. After the theme is announced, participants will have the chance to brainstorm game ideas and pitch them to other participants to form development teams. After a couple of mad days of game development, all the games are demoed and submitted to the global game jam site.

Even if you don’t participate, you can track the action on twitter #ggj18 and #umbcggj, and try out the game submissions after the event is over.

For the full list of sites, more Global Game Jam information, and information on the keynote speaker and other exciting developments, be sure to visit the main Global Game Jam site.

UMBC Site Information

The UMBC Global Game Jam site will close from 11 PM to 7 AM each Friday and Saturday night. Non-local participants should plan accordingly.

We’ll have a mix of computers and development platforms:

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • WiFi (with your own laptop)

These have a mix of the following software (not all software on all platforms)

  • Visual Studio
  • Unity
  • Unreal Engine
  • Maya
  • NVIDIA PhysX
  • Adobe Creative Suite

What you should bring

Yourself. Your creativity.

Don’t come with a pre-planned team. Teams will be formed on-site after the game pitches are made. Also, don’t bring pre-made content (art, code, sounds, etc.) that is not publically available. The idea is not to see how well you anticipate the constraints, it is to see what each team can create during the Jam!

Professors Banerjee & Robucci on developing wearable sensors for people with limited mobility

UMBC’s new Public Research for Public Good site features videos that highlight faculty research that provides real impact on the communities they are working with. In one, CSEE Professors Nilanjan Banerjee and Ryan Robucci discuss their research on developing wearable sensors to help people with limited mobility, allowing them to more easily interact with things in their environment. The sensors are built out of conductive fabric that can be sewn into sheets or clothing. The uniqueness of their project stems from the the team assembled to carry it out, which includes faculty and students who design low-level hardware, implement interactive software systems, rehabilitation specialists and end users.

Congratulations to CSEE’s December 2017 graduates

Congratulations to CSEE’s 158 new alumni. They include ten Ph.D., 47 M.S., 29 M.P.S. and 72 B.S. graduates.

UMBC faculty, alumni and partners discuss cybersecurity and industry challenges


UMBC faculty, alumni and corporate partners discuss cybersecurity and industry challenges

Cybersecurity is regularly a headliner in the news, especially when personal information stored online has been compromised, whether through a breach, hack, or threat. On Thursday, December 7, UMBC hosted experts from industry and academia at the National Press Club to discuss the cyber challenges professionals face, and how those groups can work together to prepare future generations of cybersecurity professionals.

Scott Shane, a reporter with The New York Times, led the discussion with five panelists representing industry, small business, and higher education. “I think it’s fair to say the internet was built without adequate attention to security,” stated Shane, who writes about cyber and information attacks regularly. “It’s almost like somebody who starts a bank with branches all over the world, and after it’s up and running and has millions of account holders, suddenly starts to think about safes, locks on the doors and bulletproof glass. I think that’s sort of the stage that we’re at right now.”

UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski and Anupam Joshi, professor and chair of computer science and electrical engineering, and director of the Center for Cybersecurity at UMBC, were joined by alumni and partners who have been working on the challenge of educating the workforce together. Hrabowski explained that there are currently about 350,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs, and that number is expected to continue to grow. By 2021, it is anticipated that there will be approximately three million job openings in cyber-related fields.

Over the course of his professional career, Nigel Faulkner, chief technology officer at T. Rowe Price, has experienced the emergence of technology and many changes. “As the CTO of a medium-large company, cyber is a defensive investment for us. The best thing that can happen is nothing happens,” Faulkner said, adding that he is always thinking about whether the company is investing enough, doing the right thing, and making the right connections in the industry to keep clients’ information safe.

As president and founder of TCecure, LLC, and cybersecurity academic innovation officer for University System of Maryland (USM), Tina Williams ’02, computer science, shared the importance of building security into technology from the beginning, rather than adding these features on at the “tail end of a development cycle.” Not only does her company handle security, they also monitor threats and risks that can compromise the technology’s health. In her role at USM, Williams represents the system as a whole to integrate academia and academic research, relationships, and resources into what’s taking place nationally, at the Federally Funded Research and Development Centers.

As head of UMBC’s Center for Cybersecurity, Joshi explained that UMBC is combating these national challenges by partnering with industry and government leaders to conduct research that addresses specific real-world needs that benefit both. Collaborative relationships, such as UMBC’s work with Northrop Grumman and T. Rowe Price, is one way that UMBC is working to cultivate the next generation of cybersecurity talent.

As an alumna of UMBC and a current employee at Northrop Grumman, Lauren Mazzoli ’15, computer science and mathematics, M.S. ’17, computer science, a systems engineer in the Future Technical Leaders Program at Northrop Grumman, discussed her experience in the Cyber Scholars Program. The Cyber Scholars Program works to increase the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in the field. Mazzoli explained that her experience at UMBC, in the Cyber Scholars Program, and working alongside mentors on and off-campus led her to be involved with continuing to encourage women to pursue careers in cybersecurity. “For me it’s been a product of the relationship between academia and industry, that have allowed me to find my own career path, and at the same time help others find theirs,” she explained, noting her passion for helping students consider careers in cybersecurity and related fields.

“We know there’s a huge workforce that we need and we can’t fill that pipeline. So yes, we need more women, yes, we need students of all backgrounds, but we need diversity of thought, experience, education, and problem-solving skills,” said Mazzoli, adding that it is important for students to know from a young age that cybersecurity is a field they can pursue.

Adapted from a UMBC News article article written by Megan Hanks Photo by Abnet Shiferaw ’11, visual arts.

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