Using Stolen Computer Processing Cycles to Mine Bitcoin
On Feb. 26 at the Network Distributed System Security conference in San Diego, a team of computer scientists from CSE as well as from George Mason University, UC Berkeley and the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI), unveiled what they learned from examining more than 2,000 pieces of malware used by Bitcoin mining operations in 2012 and 2013. According to the paper on "Botcoin: Monetizing Stolen Cycles," the researchers were able to estimate how much money operators made off their operations and which countries were most affected. The six computer scientists from UC San Diego included first author Danny Huang (at right) and fellow Ph.D. student Sarah Meiklejohn, postdoctoral researcher Vacha Dave, research scientist Kirill Levchenko, and professors Alex Snoeren and Stefan Savage. They reported that the revenue of the ten mining operations they studied reached at least 4,500 Bitcoin over two years. This may not seem like much, but Bitcoin's value increased from about $10 to about $1,000 during that period, with a peak of $1,100 in November 2013. As of late February 2014, one Bitcoin was worth approximately $618. "At the current stratospheric value of Bitcoin," said Huang, "miners with access to significant computational horsepower are literally printing money." Greater profitability from Bitcoin mining could turn out to be great for malicious software developers, but bad for cybersecurity and society. "It could reinvigorate the malware industry," warned CSE's Snoeren.
Qualcomm Institute Invites Proposals for Strategic Research Grants
CSE faculty, research scientists and other researchers who are eligible to be a Principal Investigator (PI) on a federal funding award have nearly two months to submit one-year grant proposals under the Qualcomm Institute's Calit2 Strategic Research Opportunities (CSRO) program. Two earlier CSRO rounds awarded over $1.5 million in cash and in-kind grants or graduate fellowships. In the 2012 round, three CSE professors were awardees: David Kriegman, Ryan Kastner and Yuanyuan (YY) Zhou (pictured at left).
PIs must submit their 3-to-5 page proposals by April 30, for grants that will take effect on July 1. Each award typically provides a 50-50 combination of cash and other support in the form of Qualcomm Institute services, equipment, lab space and other resources. Any CSE PI may submit a CSRO proposal. If they are not already an academic participant in the institute, they must sign and date an online Investigator Agreement prior to submitting the proposal.
The institute is expanding the range of research areas in which proposals will be welcomed. Two major areas for 2014 are robotics and brain science, in keeping with major initiatives already underway on campus and in the Qualcomm Institute. Projects should also be consistent with the research initiatives spelled out in the campus Strategic Plan (due to be finalized this summer). PIs will also be asked to indicate whether their proposals fit into one or more of the institute's targeted enabling technologies (wireless, photonics, cyberinfrastructure and nano-MEMS) or application thrusts (culture, energy, environment and health).
CSE Students, Faculty Eligible for Free Admission to Big Data at Work Symposium
Two CSE faculty members will be among a handful of experts set to explore the explosion of big data in the workplace at a symposium March 12. UC San Diego Extension and UCSD-TV are organizing the campus event to highlight the explosion of data in the workplace - and how students and staff can prepare for jobs in industry or academe. The hour-long 'Big Data at Work: A Conversation with the Experts" symposium will feature TED-style presentations about emerging trends in big data, including the latest developments in research, services and education. The event will take place in the Calit2 Auditorium, Atkinson Hall, and the speakers will include CSE professor and Calit2 director Larry Smarr, who will give the opening talk and focus on big data and health, and Prof. Stefan Savage (at right), who will explore the world of cybersecurity and big data. Other speakers will include San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) director Mike Norman, industry speaker Michael Zeller of Zementis, Inc., and SDSC's Natasha Balac, director of the Predictive Analytics Center of Excellence, who will moderate a panel discussion. While organizers are charging an admission fee of $10 through March 10, or $20 at the door, CSE students, staff and faculty can get in for free. Organizers set aside 40 seats for those affiliated with CSE or the Qualcomm Institute, but RSVPs must be done in advance. CSE students, staff or faculty can respond by email to email@example.com and indicate Big Data in the subject line.
The Big Data at Work symposium is a reminder that CSE and SDSC are collaborating on a Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) program in this area. If all goes well, the proposed MAS in Data Science and Engineering could kick off as early as this Fall quarter. The Big Data at Work event will be recorded for a broadcast on UCSD-TV later in 2014.
Teams Sought for SC14 Student Cluster Competition in New Orleans; Deadline to Apply: Friday, April 11
CSE and other students interested in demonstrating their high-performance computing skills on a global stage are invited to form teams and sign up to compete in the eighth annual Student Cluster Competition at the SC14 supercomputing conference to be held Nov. 16-21, 2014, in New Orleans. The Student Cluster Competition is a high-energy event featuring young high-performance computing talent from around the world who will compete to build and operate powerful cluster computers. Applications are now being accepted and the deadline for team submissions is Friday, April 11, 2014.
Detailed information can be found on the Student Cluster Competition webpage (link below), and teams must enter their proposals via the SC14 submission site. Each accepted team must submit a final architecture proposal by Monday, September 29, 2014, and the proposal should contain detailed information about both the hardware and the software stack being used for the challenge.
March 5, 2014 - 2pm-3pm - Mission Ventures Multi-Purpose Room, Rady School
"What Is Design?" is the question that Cognitive Science emeritus professor Donald Norman will attempt to answer in a Distinguished Lecture that is part of the Design at Large series organized by CSE Prof. Scott Klemmer. "Design should be a wonderful ﬁt within the university," says Norman, and "that is the challenge."
March 5, 2014 - 11am-Noon - Room 1202, CSE Building
Caltech Ph.D. candidate Fernando de Goes has research interests in computer graphics and computational mechanics. The CSE faculty candidate's public seminar will focus on "Computational Modeling through Geometric Discretization."
March 7, 2014 - 11am-Noon - Room 1202, CSE Building
IBM Almaden research staff member Ippokratis Pandis is a CSE faculty candidate and will talk about "Eliminating Unscalable Communication in Transaction Processing: Toward Bionic Databases." He makes the case for a 'bionic' database system design that enables operational analytics on truly live data.
March 10, 2014 - 2-3pm - Room 1202, CSE Building
Big data has forced databases to change from a monolithic architecture to a composition of computer and storage engines running in one or more multi-tenant clusters. CSE Distinguished Lecturer Shivnath Babu of Duke University will talk about "DBMS+: The Management System for Next-Generation Databases."
March 12, 2014 - 11am-Noon - Room 1202, CSE Building
Stanford University postdoctoral fellow Dafna Shahaf, a CSE faculty candidate, will talk about "The Aha! Moment: From Data to Insight." She will explain two methods that help users acquire insight efficiently across multiple domains.
UC San Diego Extension and UC-TV are organizing "Big Data at Work," featuring speakers including CSE Prof. Stefan Savage (at left), SDSC Director Mike Norman, Calit2 Director and CSE Prof. Larry Smarr, among others. (See news story above.)
March 17, 2014 - 2pm-3pm - Room 1202, CSE Building
Speaker Richard Szeliski is a Distinguished Scientist at Microsoft Research, where he leads the Interactive Visual Media Group. His talk will explore "Reflections on Image-Based Modeling and Rendering," a field that is rapidly changing as it has spawned consumer experiences such a panoramic VR photography, street-level and indoor immersive tours, and rich 3D navigation of photo collections.
Dresden, Germany - CSE Prof. Andrew Kahng will be busy traveling to the Federal Republic in coming weeks. From March 24-28, he will be at the Design, Automation & Test in Europe (DATE) conference in Dresden, where he will be presenting not one, not two, but three papers from his VLSI CAD Laboratory. Then from April 6-9, Kahng is headed north of Frankfurt to scenic Bad Nauheim, where he'll chair the Design Technology working group and cross-working group meetings at the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) workshop.
Have a notice about upcoming travel to conferences, etc., for the Faculty GPS column in our weekly CSE Newsletter? Be sure to let us know! Email Doug Ramsey at firstname.lastname@example.org.