Research & Innovation

Computer Science Professor Georgios Portokalidis Receives DARPA Young Faculty Award of $482,419

The award will enable Portokalidis to improve the security of systems running on processors with modern debugging features

Portokalidis with a student
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Georgios Portokalidis

Georgios Portokalidis, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science, recently received a DARPA Young Faculty Award in the amount of $492,491 (plus a Director’s Fellowship option of $482,419 for a third year) for his project “Effective Software Monitoring Leveraging Hardware Debugging Extensions.”

Reference monitors (RM)—which are security modules that transparently monitor software—can dynamically enforce a variety of security policies on software, including information-flow, memory, type, and control-flow safety policies. Unfortunately, they also significantly slow down applications, because they introduce new code that observes state and enforces policies at the level of a program statement or instruction.

Portokalidis’ project aims to develop technologies that leverage debugging features found on modern processors for efficiently monitoring and applying security policies on software. In particular, he proposes using features found in modern ARM CPUs to efficiently decouple compiler-based RMs from applications and run them in parallel. He plans to leverage two kinds of debugging facilities offered by ARM processors: transparent execution tracing and efficient data logging. Portokalidis will use them to obtain the application data required for the operation of the RM.

“I am very excited to work on this project! The technologies developed will enable the creation of co-processors that will monitor and enforce security properties on software running on mobile devices and servers without impeding performance,” he said.

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