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GCN : January and February 2016
[BrieFing] IOWADOT.MAPS.ARCGIS.COM Writers, chefs and craftsmen all have recognizable styles. The same can be said for programmers — including those who write malware. Army researchers are working on an algorithm that will help systems ad- ministrators improve security by more easily identifying malware authors and tracking the origin of threats, said Richard Harang, a network security researcher and technical lead at the Army Research Laboratory. He is work- ing on a toolkit that will help Army analysts identify malware authors more quickly. During their time at the lab, a team of university students conducted a stylometry study on code samples from 1,600 coders. They were able to deter- mine the author of a particular code excerpt with 94 percent accuracy. They found identifying features in programmers’ source code, and with machine learning, they were able to de-anonymize programmers of executable binaries, suggesting that an individual’s coding style survives complicated transformations. • Unmasking malware coders BY MARK POMERLEAU High-quality 3-D printing depends on having accurate scans of the objects to be manufactured. And although 3-D printers are becoming affordable even for hobbyists, the same cannot be said for the scanners. That could change, though, thanks to researchers at Brown University who want to use off-the-shelf digital cameras as 3-D scanners. “One of the things my lab has been focusing on is getting 3-D image cap- ture from relatively low-cost compo- nents,” said Gabriel Taubin, associate professor of engineering and computer science at Brown. “The 3-D scanners on the market today are either very expensive or are unable to do high- resolution image capture, so they can’t be used for applications where details are important.” In high-quality 3-D scanning, images are typically captured using a technique called structured light, in which a pro- jector casts light patterns over an object and a camera captures the images. The method only works when the pattern projector and camera are precisely syn- chronized, which requires specialized and costly hardware. With funding from the National Science Foundation, Taubin’s team developed an algorithm that enables the structured light process to be used without synchronizing the projector and camera, which should allow con- sumer cameras to be used for 3-D scan- ning as long as they support burst mode (shooting several successive frames per second), which many digital cameras and smartphones do. Working from the burst photos, the algorithm assembles a new sequence of images and creates a single 3-D image of the object. During testing, the researchers used a structured light projector, but they hope to develop a structured light flash that could be attached to a camera. • 3-D scans from smartphones? BY MARK POMERLEAU GCN JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016 • GCN.COM 9 Abrams said, the enhanced system “allows supervisors to understand what their trucks are doing and to make adjustments in real time.” The data feeds are widely used outside DOT. Iowa’s Homeland Se- curity and Emergency Management agency and state police port data to their operational maps, and the Department of Natural Resources uses DOT’s Track a Plow photos to determine when to send personnel to count wildlife, for example. Abrams said his office plans to release a new layer that displays cost information for storm-response efforts in real time. “The site will tell you the total amount of costs — including labor and deprecia- tion on equipment — per mile,” he said. “That will allow discussions with the public about what it costs to plow.” The team is also developing the capability to run potential sce- narios so that users can see what it would cost to bring speeds on a road back up to average. “If legisla- tors start saying, ‘We want to drive five miles an hour faster during this type of storm,’ well, here’s what it would take to do that,” Abrams said. In addition, the team wants to upgrade the frequency of data col- lection from once a minute to once every 15 seconds. Abrams said agencies can get a lot more out of their big-data efforts by keeping them database- centric and software-neutral. “If we can get our stuff into enterprise databases and don’t tie them down to application-specific schemas, we can make them avail- able to any application that wants it,” he said. • 0216gcn_008-010.indd 9 2/4/16 1:19 PM
March and April 2016