The Advanced Cyber Security Center (ACSC), New England’s premier consortium of university, industry, and government leaders collaboratively facing cyber security challenges, has named doctoral student Georg T. Becker of the UMass Electrical and Computer Engineering Department as the winner of its Best Cyber Security Solution. The event, designed to showcase New England’s emerging cyber security talent, was held at the November 15th ACSC Second Annual Conference, where students presented their work in poster format to national and regional cyber security experts. Becker’s winning project, which earned him a $1000 award, was titled “Side-channel based watermarks for embedded devices” and focused on cost-effective technology to block product piracy and IP theft through side-channel based watermarks.

The research was done by Becker, Christof Paar, and their advisor, ECE Professor Wayne Burleson.

The research described in the poster is based on the following premise. The embedded system market has risen to a multi-billion-dollar business. Embedded systems have therefore become a lucrative target for product piracy and intellectual property (IP) theft. Detecting IP theft in hardware designs is difficult, as is detecting software theft in embedded microcontrollers. Becker’s solution is to insert a unique and hidden signal into the power consumption of the device for easy and cheap detection of IP theft.

The poster competition, featuring the research work of graduate and post-doctoral students, was sponsored by .406 Ventures, Allied Minds, and Fairhaven Capital.

A featured highlight of the ACSC Second Annual Conference, the Cyber Security Student Poster Session showcased cyber security projects from the region’s emerging cyber security leaders. Twenty-five graduate students and post-docs representing seven research universities presented their state-of-the-art cyber security research to ACSC conference attendees. University students participating in the poster session were from Boston University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Northeastern University; UMass Amherst; UMass Boston; UMass Lowell; and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  (December 2012)