Current Research Projects

Research in IST cuts across traditional boundaries to drive interdisciplinary discovery and innovation. Our research is sponsored by a variety of national and international agencies, and we collaborate with diverse groups of scholars within and beyond Penn State. Explore our funded projects to see how IST's transformative research is addressing the world's most complex problems at the intersection of information, technology, and society.

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Researcher: Dinghao Wu
Sponsoring Agency: Office of Naval Research
We are considering a radically different approach to binary reverse engineering tools by placing the recompilability as the first and topmost goal. We will further develop our preliminary study on Reassembleable Disassembling, with the similar design goal to preserve the recompilability while lifting the code to higher level languages or intermediate representations.   Learn more...
Research Areas: Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Dinghao Wu
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
This project tackles the challenge of binary code analysis by proposing several advanced methods that combine techniques from behavior and semantics perspectives. The proposed methods leverage formal program semantics, symbolic execution, automated constraint solving, and algorithmic memorization of code semantics that form solid foundations with rigorous resilience properties to latest attacks. Learn more...
Research Areas: Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Peng Liu
Sponsoring Agency: George Mason University
This research aims to build the scientific foundations of Adaptive Cyber Defense technologies so that system resiliency and robustness in adversarial settings can be thoroughly defined, quantified, measured, and extrapolated in a rigorous and reliable manner. Learn more...
Research Areas: Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Shomir Wilson
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
This multi-disciplinary project aims to develop novel technology that will enable people to regain a sense of control by enabling them to simply ask questions about the privacy issues that matter to them rather than requiring them to read long, one-size-fits all privacy policies. This multi-disciplinary project aims to re-invent notice and choice, moving from long and hard-to-understand notices to interactive privacy dialogues with users. Learn more...
Research Areas: Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, Privacy and Security, Social and Organizational Informatics
Term: -
Researcher: Linhai Song
Sponsoring Agency: Mozilla Corporation
We propose to benchmark generic functions in Rust and systematically compare monomorphization with dictionary passing from three aspects: compilation time, the size of generated code and execution performance of compiled executables. The proposed project can help Rust designers better understand design choices when handling generic functions and serve as a testing set for the future evolution of the Rust compiler. Learn more...
Research Areas: Human-Computer Interaction, Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Dongwon Lee
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
To help address the threats of cyberspace and the knowledge gaps in cybersecurity curricula, this collaborative project proposes to develop a fraud informatics curriculum with three delivery options, and validate the effectiveness of this curriculum and learning materials by assessing changes in participants' knowledge, skills, and behaviors. Learn more...
Research Areas: Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Peng Liu
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
This research project seeks to develop new techniques and tools for insecurity analysis of middleware on mobile platforms (MoMP) like Android Framework and consequently lead to more secure and trustworthy computing environments for the huge number of smartphone and Internet-of-Things (IoT) device users. The project will develop new architectural designs, algorithms and techniques for precise and automated insecurity analysis of MoMP. Learn more...
Research Areas: Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Anna Squicciarini
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
This project investigates the complex chaotic behaviors that can emerge as a result of evolutionary dynamics on networks, develops techniques for dynamic control, and studies the problems associated with privacy and fairness among agents in these systems. The work focuses on semi-autonomous agents that interact with each other in a network and alter their instantaneous mixed strategies through evolutionary dynamics, with an emphasis on flocking and consensus dynamics. Learn more...
Research Areas: Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, Health and Bioinformatics, Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Anna Squicciarini, Peter Forster
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
This project aims to build mathematical and data-driven models to understand the dynamics of extremist groups at scale, the patterns of their influence, and integrated micro (individual-level) and macro (group-level or system-level) data-driven models that can guide future interventions. This project provides a greater understanding of users' behavioral patterns and social dynamics related to online extremism. Learn more...
Research Areas: Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, Privacy and Security, Social and Organizational Informatics
Term: -
Researcher: Aiping Xiong, Dongwon Lee
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
This project will use social media data to examine the memory illusion with online information, and to understand how it is associated with people's trust in information on social media. Better understanding on the extent and impact of the memory illusion phenomenon using big data will inform machine-learning approaches to better measure trust in information with an additional human information-processing perspective. Learn more...
Research Areas: Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, Privacy and Security, Social and Organizational Informatics
Term: -
Researcher: Ting Wang
Sponsoring Agency: International Business Machine Corporation
The goal of Hardening and Orchestrating Responses Under Stress (HORUS) project is to enable dynamic response and adaptive protection for cyber hunting scenarios, leveraging (1) a cognitive threat analysis process to choose from effective protective responses and actions, (2) a game-theoretic model for action selection and attack anticipation, and (3) adversarial analysis of threats and hardening of detectors. Learn more...
Research Areas: Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Dongwon Lee, Anna Squicciarini, Peter Forster
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
This project will expand the capability and involvement of Penn State students State in cyber-relevant disciplines. To support student needs, we have implemented a flexible and strong Scholarship for Service (SFS) program, based on customized mentoring for each student. Learn more...
Research Areas: Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Peng Liu
Sponsoring Agency: Intelligent Automation Inc.
This project focuses on the design, implementation, and evaluation of a system prototype which does hardware-assisted defenses against ransomware attacks in enterprise computing environments.Learn more...
Research Areas: Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Dongwon Lee, Aiping Xiong
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
This funding establishes a new Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site at Pennsylvania State University. An interdisciplinary team of experienced faculty mentors will guide undergraduate students in summer research projects focused on applying machine learning methods to solve cybersecurity problems, particularly cyber-attacks. Learn more...
Research Areas: Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Dinghao Wu
Sponsoring Agency: Office of Naval Research
This research explores reverse engineering bases diversification and transformation methods for defending such widely spread cyberthreats. Our aim is to make the reverse engineering code recompilable or reassembleable, which can help augment legacy software systems with modern security mechanisms. Learn more...
Research Areas: Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Anna Squicciarini, Sarah Rajtmajer
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
This project seeks to understand the unique evolution of privacy attitudes during crises by studying online self-disclosure during the coronavirus epidemic. This research will help us detect acts of self-disclosure in online settings and learn how oversharing is expedited or even encouraged during the coronavirus crisis. Learn more...
Research Areas: Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, Health and Bioinformatics, Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Linhai Song
Sponsoring Agency: U.S. Agency for Global Media
This proposal aims to identify Rust’s memory bugs missed by the Rust compiler through rule-based static analysis, further improving the reliability and safety of Rust’s ecosystem. Learn more...
Research Areas: Human-Computer Interaction, Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Xinyu Xing
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
This project will provide much-needed automation for reproducing kernel bugs and vulnerabilities. If successful, the project will significantly advance computer security (for kernel vulnerability analysis) and contribute to the field of software engineering (for bug diagnosis and assessment). By improving the reproduction rate of kernel bugs, this project will also help with other parallel efforts for vulnerability patching and remediation. Learn more...
Research Areas: Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Xinyu Xing
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
This research project aims to explore, design and develop lightweight, systematic and automated approaches that turn a core dump to an informative aid in tracking down memory corruption vulnerabilities. This project will make an important step towards improving information available to developers and analysts debugging vulnerable software. Learn more...
Research Areas: Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Xinyu Xing
Sponsoring Agency: Office of Naval Research
This research aims to explore, design and develop a series of technical approaches to ease the development of working exploits and escalate the exploitability for vulnerabilities. Learn more...
Research Areas: Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Ting Wang
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
This project aims at understanding the security threats incurred by reusing third-party models as building blocks of machine learning (ML) systems and developing tools to help developers mitigate such threats throughout the lifecycle of ML systems. Outcomes from the project will improve ML security in applications from self-driving cars to authentication in the short term while promoting more principled practices of building and operating ML systems in the long run. Learn more...
Research Areas: Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Linhai Song
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
This project aims to better understand Rust’s memory bugs and build novel static/dynamic tools to combat Rust’s memory bugs. This project contains three components: (1) a comprehensive taxonomy of Rust’s memory bugs, (2) novel static techniques to identify memory bugs in interior unsafe functions, and (3) novel fuzzing techniques enhanced by the safe/unsafe information in Rust. Learn more...
Research Areas: Human-Computer Interaction, Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Ting Wang
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
The transformative nature of this project is to completely rethink how to define and implement the interpretation of DNNs and how to exploit this interpretability as a bridge to understand and control the DNN behaviors. This project aims to develop RIDDLE, a new interpretable deep learning framework that is reliable, interactive, and debuggable. Learn more...
Research Areas: Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Aiping Xiong
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
This project aims to understand the needs of different stakeholders in data privacy, and to develop algorithms and software to enable broader deployment of private data sharing. The project's novelty is combining the expertise of social science researchers with that of computer scientists who have both theoretical and system research experiences related to DP to develop a hybrid approach to private data sharing to achieve better privacy-utility tradeoff. Learn more...
Research Areas: Privacy and Security
Term: -
Researcher: Dongwon Lee
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
This project will create practical tools to bridge the gap between employers and individuals interested in cybersecurity careers, using the SFS program as a test bed. The project will also support a Community of Practice of cybersecurity educators to encourage the adoption of these innovative tools. Learn more...
Research Areas: Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, Privacy and Security, Social and Organizational Informatics
Term: -
Researcher: Vasant Honavar, Mary Beth Rosson, C. Lee Giles
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
This project develops a virtual data collaboratory that can be accessed by researchers, educators, and entrepreneurs across institutional and geographic boundaries, fostering community engagement and accelerating interdisciplinary research. The end product is a fully-developed system for collaborative use by the research and education community. Learn more...
Research Areas: Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, Health and Bioinformatics, Human-Computer Interaction, Privacy and Security, Social and Organizational Informatics
Term: -
Researcher: Dinghao Wu
Sponsoring Agency: Office of Naval Research
The fund will be used to host a workshop geared toward understanding several critical issues surrounding software executable transformation for improving the security and efficiency of software used in security-critical applications. Learn more...
Research Areas: Privacy and Security
Term: -