ACM Queue Video Portrait: Ang Cui

March 5, 2013

ACM Queue, the popular website for practitioners, is continuing its series of video interviews of today's leading computing innovators who are also members of ACM, with a spotlight on a young security researcher.

The second video in the series features Ang Cui, a Ph.D. student at Columbia University in New York City whose research focuses on embedded devices such as routers, printers and VOIP phones. He is the inventor of a novel, host-based defense mechanism known as Symbiotes—programs designed specifically to retrofit black-box, vulnerable, legacy embedded systems with sophisticated anti-exploitation mechanisms. In this video portrait, Cui discusses work he's done for Cisco and the US Department of Homeland Security.

"I love taking things apart and figuring out how they work," says Cui. For the past five years, he's been working on ways to defend vulnerable embedded systems that run all of our infrastructures (such as phones and routers) from attack. A significant component of his research is Software Symbiotes, a biologically inspired mechanism that mimics symbiotic relationships found in nature.

"We think of the embedded device as a living organism, and the Symbiotes as another organism that's introduced into the host so that they can coexist and provide a mutual benefit," Cui explains. "Creating an anomaly detector inside an embedded system is fairly accurate compared to what you'd get on general-purpose computers."

Watch the video on the ACM Queue website, and watch your inbox for more Queue Portrait videos in the future!