New IST professor uses industry expertise to explore malware detection

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Linhai Song, a newly hired assistant professor in the Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), has devoted his career to not only enhancing the performance of software, but also helping battle the threat of malware.

Traditionally, malware detection requires substantial manual effort by cybersecurity professionals. In his future research at IST, Song hopes to develop automated tools for this task.

“Ransomware is very popular type of malware. If your computer becomes infected with ransomware, it will encrypt your hard disk and you’ll lose access to your own data, until you pay money to a hacker,” Song explained.

In a world inundated with new and evolving security threats like this, automatic detection is a crucial step in the field. This would both decrease the time and effort needed to detect threats and help identify a greater number of attacks.

“There are definitely some challenges to this, but there is also a lot of opportunity,” he said. “We want this malware detection to fundamentally reduce the human efforts needed.”

Earning his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015, Song also brings industry experience to his new position. He previously worked as a staff research scientist at FireEye Research Labs, a company specializing in cybersecurity intelligence.

“One of my projects there was applying big data analysis to malware detection,” he said.

He hopes to realize these visions by leveraging his past experiences across a team of dedicated and resourceful research assistants.

He said, “I came from industry, so I know what the industry needs. Students who work with me, they will work on real problems.”

Last Updated October 02, 2017