Saikat Chakrabarti

Assistant Professor of Computer ScienceSaikat Chakrabarti

“My expertise is in cybersecurity, specifically in securing the Internet through vulnerability assessment, network security, and applied cryptography. Cybersecurity is an art. Digital tools cannot replace the human mind, at least not yet. I teach students how to look for critical security vulnerabilities, to understand the nature of security exploits, and the techniques to protect private information.

Currently, I’m working with a student, Christian Rodriguez, to research how we can use ‘honeypots’ to understand cyber-attack techniques. A honeypot is a collection of software connected to the internet and is designed to appear as though it contains valuable information and is vulnerable to attack. One honeypot we placed on a network in Asia was attacked more than 2,500 times in a 24-hour period. It also successfully trapped several malware not recognized by leading commercial anti-virus software.

The goal is not to catch hackers, but to identify vulnerabilities in networks and to determine what tools and techniques people are using to exploit those vulnerabilities.

This summer, I am building a new laboratory within the Shiley School of Engineering to test and secure ‘smart’ devices, such as medical wearables, fitness trackers, and small-scale drones. The best way—and often the only way—to identify cybersecurity vulnerabilities in a product is to conduct rigorous penetration testing. ‘Ethically hacking’ a product leads to mitigating vulnerabilities in a responsible and controlled way before damage is done in the real world and real people are affected. Although there are no guarantees of finding issues, any vulnerabilities discovered are disclosed to the vendor under a confidential non-disclosure agreement. The goal is to have an experimental test-bed that fosters undergraduate research in cybersecurity.” 

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