Yanyan Lu and Jyh-Ming Lien
Given a motion planning problem in a dynamic but fully known environment, we propose the first roadmapbased method, called critical roadmap, that has the ability to identify and exploit the critical topological changes of the free configuration space. Comparing to the existing methods that either ignore temporal coherence or only repair their roadmaps at fixed times, our method provides not only a more complete representation of the free (configuration-time) space but also provides significant efficiency improvement. Our experimental results show that the critical roadmap method has a higher chance of finding solutions, and it is at least one order of magnitude faster than some well-known planners.
Jiang Wang, Kun Sun and Angelos Stavrou
System Management Mode (SMM) is an x86 processor feature designed to assist debugging for hardware manufacturers. Recent research has shown that SMM can also be used to protect the run-time integrity of software by invoking SMM to periodically check current system state and compare it with known pristine or trusted software states. Researchers and practitioners have claimed that any unauthorized state modification can be detected with an SMM-based system integrity-checking mechanism. In this paper, we demonstrate that all hardware-based, periodic integrity mechanisms can be defeated by a new class of attacks, which we refer to as ``evasion attacks.'' Such attacks use a compromised software stack to remove any attack traces before the integrity checks begin and to continue the execution of the malicious code after the integrity checks are completed. We detail two categories of evasion attacks: directly-intercepting System Management Interrupt (SMI) and indirectly-deriving SMI invocations. Finally, we measure the performance impact of our proof-of-concept prototypes for all of the attacks and present countermeasures for these attacks.
Kun Sun, Jiang Wang, Fengwei Zhang and Angelos Stavrou
Protecting commodity desktop systems that run commercial operating systems (OS) without adversely impacting performance or usability remains an open problem. To make matters worse, the overall system security depends on desktop applications with complex code-bases that perform multiple and inter-dependent tasks often dictated by Internet-borne code. Recent research has indicated the need for context-dependent trustworthy environments where the user can segregate different activities in an effort to lower risk and safeguard private information. In this paper, we introduce a new BIOS-assisted mechanism for the secure generation and management of trusted execution environments, tailored to separate security-sensitive activities from untrusted ones. A key characteristic of our system is usability: the capability to quickly and securely switch between operating environments in a single physical machine without the need for any specialized hardware or extensive code modifications. Our goal was to eliminate any mutable, non-BIOS codesharing while reusing existing processor capabilities. We demonstrate that even if the untrusted OS becomes compromised, it cannot perform an exfiltration or inference attack on data or applications in the trusted OS. To avoid sophisticated attacks that fake a trusted environment, we provide visible indication to the user about the current environment. Moreover, to alternate between environments, we require the user to physically press a button, an action that cannot be reproduced by software. Using our prototype, we measured the switching process to be approximately six seconds. This short switching time empowers the user to frequently and seamlessly switch between trusted and untrusted environments.
Brian Schulte, Rhandi Martin, Haris Andrianakis and Angelos Stavrou
Exfiltration of data using internet-borne attacks has become a credible threat for organization and enterprises. History has shown that crafted targeted attacks and zero-day malware are capable of penetrating even the most sophisticated defenses. To make matters worse, intrusion detection systems that perform analysis of network traffic are dependent on the timely information provided by blacklisting, signature schemes, or anomaly patterns. This is especially true for heavily used communication protocols where blocking decisions affect the everyday operations of the organization. Even when the intrusion is detected in a timely manner, valuable data might have already been stolen. In this paper, we propose a new approach to distinguish legitimate browser software from malware that generates identical network traffic signatures. Our system consists of two parts: a signature-based passive detection module, and a module that issues Program Interactive Challenges (PICs) to client applications. Initially, we perform passive detection utilizing content inspection techniques that analyze network header element order. Of course this is not enough: we demonstrate that passive detection can be easily subverted. To amend that, we introduce an interactive detection module in the form of inline network proxy that challenges the detected browser forcing it to exercise known specific internal functionality. For browsers, we can leverage HTML, Flash, Javascript and other common browser components to form challenges that malware will not be able to respond to due to lack of functionality. Contrary to interractive challenges, our challenges are transparent to the user allowing for a seamless browsing experience. We demonstrate the effectiveness of active challenges on thousands of real world malware samples. Our results show that, depending on the deployment scenario, PICs incure no or minimal (average of 0.35 seconds) latency per inspected objected.
Keith Sullivan and Sean Luke
Developing robot behaviors is a tedious task requiring multiple coding, trial, and debugging cycles. This makes attractive the notion of learning from demonstration, whereby a robot learns behaviors in real time from the examples of a demonstrator. Learning from demonstration can be problematic, however, because of the number of trials necessary to gather sufficient samples to learn correctly. The problem is compounded in a multi-robot setting due to the potentially much larger design space arising from the number of and interactions between the robots. In this paper, we propose a learning from demonstration system capable of rapidly training multiple robots to perform a collaborative task. Our supervised learning method applies user domain knowledge to decompose complex behaviors into a hierarchy of simpler behaviors, which are easier to train and learn, and require many fewer samples to do so. The system further reduces the state space by only considering environmental features and actions pertinent to each decomposed simple behavior. Decomposition occurs not only within individual robot behaviors but also at the hierarchical group behavior level. Experiments using Pioneer robots in a patrol scenario illustrate our system.
Yanyan Lu, Evan Behar, Stephen Donnelly, Jyh-Ming Lien, Fernando Camelli and David Wong
Since the introduction of the concept of "Digital Earth", almost every major international city has been re-constructed in the virtual world. A large volume of geometric models describing urban objects has become freely available in the public domain via software like ArcGlobe and Google Earth. Although mostly created for visualization, these urban models can benefit many applications beyond visualization including city scale evacuation planning and earth phenomenon simulations. However, these models are mostly loosely structured and implicitly defined and require tedious manual preparation that usually takes weeks if not months before they can be used. Designing algorithms that can robustly and efficiently handle unstructured urban models at the city scale becomes a main technical challenge. In this paper, we present a framework that generates seamless 3D architectural models from 2D ground plans with elevation and height information. These overlapping ground plans are commonly used in the current GIS software such as ESRI ArcGIS and urban model synthesis methods to depict various components of buildings. Due to measurement and manual errors, these ground plans usually contain small, sharp, and various (nearly) degenerate artifacts. In this paper, we show both theoretically and empirically that our framework is efficient and numerically stable. Based on our review of the related work, we believe this is the first work that attempts to automatically create 3D architectural meshes for simulation at the city level. With the goal of providing greater benefit beyond visualization from this large volume of urban models, our initial results are encouraging.
Naeem Esfahani and Sam Malek
A system's early architectural decisions impact its properties (e.g., scalability, dependability) as well as stakeholder concerns (e.g., cost, time to delivery). Choices made early on are both difficult and costly to change, and thus it is paramount that the engineer gets them 'right'. This leads to a paradox, as in early design, the engineer is often forced to make these decisions under uncertainty, i.e., not knowing the precise impact of those decisions on the various concerns. How could the engineer make the 'right' choices in such circumstances? This is precisely the question we have tackled in this paper. We present GuideArch, a framework aimed at guiding the exploration of the architectural solution space under uncertainty. It provides techniques and tools that help the engineer to make informed decisions. The approach has been thoroughly evaluated in a project aimed at reengineering a mobile software system.
Sean Luke, Keith Sullivan and Faisal Abidi
We present a study of cooperative coevolution applied to moderately complex optimization problems in large-population environments. The study asks three questions. First: what collaboration methods perform best, and when? Second: how many subpopulations are desirable? Third: is it worthwhile to do more than one trial per fitness evaluation? We discovered that parallel methods tended to work better than sequential ones, that ``shuffling'' (a collaboration method) predominated in performance in more complex problems, that more subpopulations generally did better, and that more trials performed marginally better.
Syed Faraz Mahmood and Huzefa Rangwala
Advances in sequencing technologies have revolutionized the field of genomics by providing cost effective and high throughput solutions. In this paper, we develop a parallel sequence assembler implemented on general purpose graphic processor units (GPUs). Our work was largely motivated by a growing need in the genomic community for sequence assemblers and increasing use of GPUs for general purpose computing applications. We investigated the implementation challenges, and possible solutions for a data parallel approach for sequence assembly. We implemented an Eulerian-based sequence assembler (GPU-Euler) on the nVidia GPUs using the CUDA programming interface. GPU-Euler was benchmarked on three bacterial genomes using input reads representing the new generation of sequencing approaches. Our empirical evaluation showed that GPU-Euler produced lower run times, and showed comparable performance in terms of contig length statistics to other serial assemblers. We were able to demonstrate the promise of using GPUs for genome assembly, a computationally intensive task.
Sean Luke
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