ESP-IGERT Fall 2012 highlights: Message from the Director

Dear Colleagues:

As the year draws to a close, I wish to take the opportunity to provide you with an update on  UIC's IGERT program on Electronic Security and Privacy.

The ESP-IGERT program is a doctoral research traineeship program aimed at providing an interdisciplinary research and education to combat the  threats of the cyberspace. PhD students from various disciplines will come together to tackle the challenges of computer viruses, botnets, trojans, worms, and identity theft. The program was established with a five-year, 3.2 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation. Approximately 15 faculty from the Colleges of Engineering, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Business Administration and Applied Health Sciences participate in the program and share their expertise in electronic security and privacy with our students. Our first cohort of 10 PhD students joined us this Fall.  

Below I report the progress on the various activities of the IGERT so far. 

Student Activities

Our Fellows and Associates have been busy presenting their research. This Fall, ESP IGERT Fellows and Associates published about a dozen research papers in leading conferences and journals. Some highlights:
  • ESP IGERT Fellow Federica Fornaciari (COMM-LAS) presented her work on media framing of privacy at both the Amsterdam Privacy Conference in Amsterdam and at the Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers in Salford, UK.
  • ESP-IGERT Fellow Ben Kuo (MIS-CBA) presented his research on knowledge contribution in online patient to patient health care communities.
  • ESP-IGERT Ascociate Maliheh Monshizadeh (CS-ENG) will be presenting her work on automated synthesis of secure  web applications at the 2012 ASE International Conference on Cyber Security in Washington DC.
  • ESP-IGERT Associate John Pendergrass (MIS-CBA) will be presenting his work on sharing personal health information via Health Information Exchanges at the Association for Information Systems Conference in Orlando, FL.

Faculty Accomplishments

  • Chris Kanich (CS-ENG) joined the IGERT faculty in Fall.  His research is on economic analysis of cybercrime and investigating human factors in Internet security mechanisms.  
  • Bob Sloan (CS-ENG) was quoted in a Sun Times article about the security of credit card information.
  • Steve Jones (COMM-LAS) was quoted in an Associated Press article about an Army veteran's posts to Facebook while holding another person hostage in Pittsburgh.
  • ESP-IGERT Associate Director Rigel Gjomemo (CS-ENG) and Director Venkatakrishnan (CS-ENG) submitted a US Provisional Patent in the area of online security. 

New Research Grants

Several grants have been awarded this past fall for research and scholarship in cybersecurity. The scholarship awards are especially gratifying as they enable us to expand our cybersecurity studies program to include undergraduate and Masters-level scholars.  Thanks to our extraordinarily productive faculty, the UIC cybersecurity program has received more than 7.5 million dollars in grant funding in the past year alone! Some recent grants include:

  • Scholarships for Service in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance. ESP-IGERT Faculty members Venkat Venkatakrishnan and Robert Sloan were awarded a five year, $1.96 million by the National Science Foundation grant entitled to support undergradaute and Masters-level students in information assurance studies.
  • HS-STEM Career Development. The Department of Homeland Security has awarded ESP-IGERT Faculty members Venkat Venkatakrishnan, Robert Sloan and Jon Solworth a three-year, $250K to support information assurance training for Masters-level students.
  • Application-Sensitive Access Control Evaluation. Tim Hinrichs, postdoctoral associate of Computer Science and ESP-IGERT,  and ESP-IGERT Faculty member Lenore Zuck, have been awarded $653,000 by the National Science Foundation for research in access control and cybersecurity. This award is part of an overall $1.1 million collaborative project with Indiana University and the University of Pittsburgh.

ESP-IGERT Foundations Class - Fall 2012

A unique feature of the ESP-IGERT courses  is that they are team-taught by faculty members from two different disciplines, with both professors attending and co-teaching in the classroom.
The first IGERT  class, which was newly developed and team-taught by Ranga Chandrasekaran (MIS-CBA) and Venkat Venkatakrishnan  (CS-ENG), covered such diverse topics as cybercrime, cloud computing, digital rights management and social network sites. 

The seeds of an interdisciplinary research program were planted with this cohort, as the students paired with others outside of their home discipline to pursue projects concerning phishing, security threat analysis and personal information disclosure in a variety of online settings such as email, blogs, product reviews, and health discussion boards.  We anticipate that several of the class projects will result in conference submissions and presentations over the coming year, as students refine their analyses and pursue additional related questions. 

ESP-IGERT Seminars

Our weekly ESP-IGERT Colloquia sessions have featured an interesting and diverse group of speakers.
  • Noah Dermer, Chief Security Officer at Epic Healthcare and Ed Zawacki, Chief Security and Privacy Officer at UIC presented enterprise-level security issues and challenges.
  • Faculty members Lenore ZuckSteve Jones and Andy Johnson shared perspectives on wide ranging topics such as ethics in security research and building successful interdisciplinary research collaborations. 
  • Students were introduced to career planning resources by the College of Engineering’s Office of Career Services and several of our Fellows were able to hone their presentation skills by recapping their research prior to making a conference appearance.
Our seminars are held on Mondays between 2-3 p.m in SEO 1000. These sessions are open to the entire UIC community, so we hope you will join us next semester!

Other News

  •  There are two IGERT interdisciplinary classes being taught in Spring. 
    • Human factors in Electronic Security and Privacy, team-taught by Leilah Lyons (CS/Learning Sciences) and Steve Jones (COMM-LAS). 
    • Computer and Network Privacy and Security: Ethical, Legal, and Technical Considerations, team-taught by Robert Sloan (CS-ENG) and Richard Warner (Chicago Kent College of Law).
  • Save the date! The ESP-IGERT Program will join with Symantec Corporation on February 5, 2013 to sponsor The Cyber Readiness Challenge at UIC. This one-of-a-kind event will provide an opportunity for security professionals and students to work together in a "Capture the Flag" cyber-simulation. 
    • Activities will include a Security Demo Lab, a poster presentation session featuring UIC graduate student research projects and a keynote address on the the challenges and new approaches to security in cloud computing, mobile solutions, and compliance. Watch for more details on our website  over the coming weeks. 

    I am pleased to share the status of the ESP-IGERT with each one of you. The ESP-IGERT is on the move, and is strongly positioned towards addressing the challenges of modern day cyber-threats.


    Venkat Venkatakrishnan
    Director, IGERT Program on Electronic Security & Privacy
    Associate Professor of Computer Science

    Office of the ESP-IGERT
    University of Illinois at Chicago
    851 S Morgan St, Room 918
    Chicago, IL 60607
    p: 312 413 0365
    f: 312 413 0024