Yanfang (Fanny) Ye, assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering, has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation in support of her work to develop intelligent malware detection and resilient techniques against cyberattacks. The award comes with $481,693 in funding over a three-year period.
Malware—software that deliberately fulfills the harmful intent of an attacker—has been used as a major weapon by cyber-criminals to launch a wide range of attacks that cause serious damages and significant financial losses to many Internet users. To protect legitimate users from these attacks, the most significant line of defense is anti-malware software products, which predominately use signature-based methods to recognize threats.
“However, driven by considerable economic benefits, malware attackers are using automated malware development tool kits to quickly write and modify malicious codes that can evade detection by anti-malware products,” said Ye. “In order to remain effective, the anti-malware industry needs much more powerful methods that are capable of protecting users against new threats and are more difficult to evade.”
Ye will focus her efforts on the development of new techniques that are designed to be arm race-capable, and can be used in other cyber security domains, such as anti-spam, fraud detection and counter-terrorism.
Ye has extensive research and development experience in Internet security solutions. Before joining WVU, she was the principal scientist in Comodo Security Solutions, Inc., a provider of computer software and SSL digital certificates, and deputy director at Kingsoft Internet Security Corporation, the second-largest Internet security company in China. Ye proposed and developed cloud-based solutions for mining big data in the area of Internet security, especially for malware detection and phishing fraud detection. Her developed algorithms and systems have been incorporated into popular commercial products, including Comodo Internet Security with more than 35 million users in the U.S., and Kingsoft Antivirus, with 150 million-plus users in China.
As part of the grant, Ye, in collaboration with Katerina Goseva-Popstojanova, professor of computer science and electrical engineering, will establish a computer security lab that works to create innovations for intelligent and resilient defenses against malware attacks as well as other cyber security threats. The project also integrates research with education through curriculum development activities and engages graduate and undergraduate students in research. It is also expected to increase the involvement of underrepresented groups, including minority and women.
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