Computer Science Major Helps Make Advances Against Viral Attacks

Story posted May 02, 2012

Jesus Navarro ’13 started out playing video games as a kid. Then he began fixing the video games when they broke. Then he became interested in building computers. Today, he’s breaking new ground in computer security.

Last semester, Navarro and Enrique Naudon ‘11 worked on a security problem to aid the research of Assistant Professor Daniela Oliveira in Bowdoin’s computer science department. Based on their results, they co-authored a paper, Bridging the Semantic Gap to Mitigate Kernel-level Keyloggers. The paper was accepted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for its Semantic Computing and Security workshop at an upcoming symposium.

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Jesus Navarro '13

Navarro was also selected out of a pool of international undergraduates and graduate students to receive one of the $1,000 travel grants to the IEEE conference May 20-23 in San Francisco. Philip Koch ’15 will also attend the event.

“The symposium is considered the top symposium on security and privacy in the world,” Oliveira says. “Jesus was selected based on his … great potential as a future researcher and professional in the field.”

Navarro, a computer science major, says he’s excited at the prospect of attending the symposium to “see how other research groups have proposed to solve keylogger problems or other security issues.”

Navarro says he and Naudon in their independent study last fall worked on a keylogger problem, figuring out how a hacker could record keystrokes remotely on a computer. “Before we can stop this from happening, we have to know how to do it,” Navarro explained. “Professor Oliveira’s anti-virus solution is to detect viruses in the operation system itself, and she wants to extend her solution to that.”

Oliveira has received a $404,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop robust defenses for operating systems against virtual machines.

Navarro has received the computer science Freedman Summer Research Fellowship to continue his work with Oliveira.

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