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CSE Doctoral Student Wins Symantec Intern Competition

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Shabnam Aboughadareh, a doctoral student in the Computer Science and Engineering Department, won Shabnam Aboughadarehfirst prize among all graduate, technical Symantec interns worldwide in the company’s 7th Annual Intern Showcase Competition.

Aboughadareh, whose research interest is computer security, interned at the Symantec Research Labs with her manager, Dr. Matthew Elder. The project upon which her competition presentation was based was a government-funded project to detect malware in a cloud environment by using a sophisticated type of malware called a rootkit.

“This research was important because usage of the cloud is becoming prevalent, and if malware attacks the cloud environment it can damage many systems. The resulting cost of recovery and downtime is very high,” Aboughadareh explained.

In the course of her research, she looked at existing security measures and determined their shortcomings, then created a new approach. That approach involved looking at machines on the many systems that feed into the cloud to detect those that are compromised by identifying anomalies on one machine compared to the others.

“I’m happy to have won the competition, but I have to give credit to my advisor, Dr. Christoph Csallner,” Aboughadareh said. “I learned my methods from him. He makes good engineers. He gave me pointers on my presentation before the final competition, and I got many good comments from Symantec employees because of his advice.”