Prof. Christopher Kruegel is Recognized as One of the World’s Top Innovators (TR35)

September 28, 2010

Christopher Kruegel Recognized by MIT Technology Review’s Prestigious
TR35 Listing of the World’s Top Young Innovators for 2010

Santa Barbara, CA– August 25, 2010 – UC Santa Barbara announced that Christopher Kruegel has been recognized by Technology Review magazine as one of the world’s top innovators under the age of 35 for his work on mitigating malicious code and defeating botnets. Selected from more than 300 nominees by a panel of expert judges and the editorial staff of Technology Review, the TR35 is an elite group of accomplished young innovators who exemplify the spirit of innovation. Their work–spanning medicine, computing, communications, nanotechnology, and more–is changing our world.

Botnets, armies of enslaved computers that have been infected with carefully crafted worms or viruses, are responsible for more than 80 percent of the over 100 billion spam messages e-mailed daily. Antivirus programs are often ineffective against them, because the software typically works by scanning a computer for signatures of known viruses – and the viruses that turn computers into bots are often too new for these characteristic patterns to have been identified. Christopher Kruegel, an associate professor in the computer science department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has developed technology that can ferret out an infection even if the virus or worm has no known signature. It works by detecting when a bot is communicating with its master (command and control) servers, as it must do to get its commands or to send back data (such as stolen passwords and credit card numbers). To identify these communications amid legitimate network traffic, Kruegel’s research group analyzed tens of thousands of malware samples per day and teased out the command-and-control messages common to botnets. Catching these communications makes it possible to block the master servers, forcing criminals to move their infrastructure or redirect their communications. In effect, Kruegel isolates the previously infected computers, neutralizing the infection even if it hasn’t been wiped from your hard drive.

“Each year, Technology Review selects 35 innovators under the age of 35 who we believe are transforming technology. Discovering these amazing young men and women is one of the highlights of the year for us,” said Jason Pontin, editor in chief and publisher of Technology Review. “We celebrate their success and look forward to their continued advancement of technology in their respective fields.”

Christopher Kruegel and the other TR35 winners for 2010 will be featured in the September/October issue of Technology Review and online at www.technologyreview.com/tr35. In addition, the EmTech@MIT 2010 Conference, to be held September 21–23 at MIT, will honor the winners with a dedicated awards ceremony and in a series of “Meet the TR35” presentations.

Additional information about past and present TR35 winners and judges is available at www.technologyreview.com/tr35. For more information about EmTech@MIT 2010 please visit: www.technologyreview.com/emtech.