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Michalis Polychronakis Earns $500K NSF CAREER Award for Cybersecurity Research

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Building on a history of support to computer science researchers at Stony Brook University, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award to Professor Michalis Polychronakis, the Department of Computer Science has announced.

Michalis Polychronakis
Michalis Polychronakis

Professor Polychronakis will receive a grant of $500,000 for his project: Principled and Practical Software Shielding against Advanced Exploits.

The main objective of his proposed research is the design of innovative software hardening techniques, and their practical application to commodity software and systems.

Polychronakis’ work is motivated by the fact that “the exploitation of vulnerabilities in popular software is among the leading causes of system compromise and malware infection.” In the abstract, Polychronakis acknowledges that attackers will continue to find exploitable vulnerabilities in widely used software, and principled software shielding technologies are a critical layer of defense against advanced exploits.

“Michalis’ work is a critical component of the department’s cybersecurity research portfolio,” said Samir Das, chair of the Department of Computer Science. “His project will develop methods to protect IT systems from the most advanced forms of cyber attacks.”

This CAREER research addresses difficulties already faced by existing protections by focusing on advancements in exploitation methods; creating principled protection mechanisms that will effectively undermine adversaries’ assumptions about a victim system and meaningfully reducing its attack surface; along with treating deployability and performance as core design principles to facilitate the practical applicability of the developed defenses.

“I’m grateful, honored, and excited to receive the NSF CAREER award, as it will provide invaluable support for our team to continue our research on improving the security of the software we all rely on against the threat of vulnerability exploitation,” Polychronakis said.

About the Researcher:
Michalis Polychronakis is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science, part of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. His research focuses on areas of network and system security, along with network monitoring and measurement. Polychronakis, a member of Stony Brook’s National Security Institute, received a PhD from Greece’s University of Crete in 2009 and became an associate research scientist at Columbia University. He was also the Program Chair of the 14th International Conference on Detection of Intrusions and Malware & Vulnerability Assessment.


— Joseph Wolkin

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