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Advances in Computer Security Being Developed at UT Arlington

May 16, 2008

Computer Science and Engineering researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington have received funding from the National Science Foundation’s Cybertrust program to design robust, privacy preserving and efficient recommendation systems to prevent the malicious manipulation of commercial systems and any application that involves an overload of information.

Fillia Makedon, professor and chair of the Computer Science & Engineering Department in the College of Engineering, is the principal investigator in this project. She is collaborating with Matt Bishop, a professor of computer science at the University of California at Davis.

Their study, titled “Detecting and Preventing Attacks in Recommendation Systems” and valued at almost $500,000, will improve the technology and knowledge needed for trustworthy recommendation systems. Recommendation systems are playing an increasingly important role in numerous types of transactions and decision-making involving online systems.

One example of potential uses would be identifying bogus “buyer endorsements” of products sold on Internet sites such as Amazon.com and eBay. Another example would be evaluating inputs from several sensor sources before deciding whether or not to initiate a corrective action such as opening a pressure-release valve or alerting a security response team.

This project, carried out at the department’s Heracleia Human Centered Computing Laboratory, will also develop an educational package that can be used to support student projects in developing, testing, comparing, and attacking/defending recommendation systems. Recommendation systems provide a fun, hands-on way to introduce students to a variety of programming concepts.

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