Professor Manuel Egele Awarded $750,000 Grant from ONR for Malware Research
Malware is a constant threat in the 21st century. The most common way to deal with a malware infection is to clean the malicious software from a computer or to reinstall its operating system in an effort to restore its original functionality. However, sophisticated malware that steals sensitive information can, upon detection, be repurposed to feed misinformation to the adversary. To accomplish this, the defense system needs to be able to differentiate between the malicious software and real sources of information, to then provide the malicious software with false data. The defense mechanism also must be able to contain malware and prevent it from doing further harm.
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has awarded Professor Manuel Egele (ECE) with a $750,000 grant entitled “In-Situ Malware Containment and Deception through Dynamic in-Process Virtualization” to pursue this idea. With the help of his students, Professor Egele has begun researching and developing methods and techniques to achieve the desired defensive capabilities. Through targeted misinformation that malware will exfiltrate and send to its creators, defenders can determine what information an adversary can learn about the infected system. This provides the defender with an asymmetric advantage; essentially, full control over the malware’s, and by extension the attacker’s, world view.
Professor Egele is a Junior Faculty Fellow at the Hariri Institute for Computing and received multiple best paper and other community awards. His interests focus on software and system security on mobile, embedded, and large-scale platforms. We look forward to the new insights Professor Egele and his research team will bring to light about malware and its potential applications for use against malicious parties.