Looking to share its advanced research on bot behavior, emerging infections and mitigation processes with the security community, Georgia Institute of Technology is the first academic institution to join the Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group (M3AAWG).
M3AAWG is where the industry comes together to work against bots, malware, spam, viruses, denial-of-service attacks and other online exploitation. M3AAWG represents more than one billion mailboxes from some of the largest network operators worldwide. It leverages the depth and experience of its global membership to tackle abuse on existing networks and new emerging services through technology, collaboration and public policy. It also works to educate global policy makers on the technical and operational issues related to online abuse and messaging.
Headquartered in San Francisco, Calif., M3AAWG is driven by market needs and supported by major network operators and messaging providers.
The university sees the closed, vetted structure within M3AAWG as a rare opportunity to disseminate its findings on the latest threats directly to network operators and public policy advisors while also obtaining feedback from these industry professionals, according to Dr. Manos Antonakakis, computer systems and software assistant professor at Georgia Tech, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and M3AAWG Academic Committee co-chair.
"M3AAWG bridges the gap between academia and industry,” Antonakakis said. “As researchers, we often identify new strategies to understand and disable complex illicit infrastructures, such as botnets and malware, and objectively measure other aspects of Internet abuse, for example, spam and ad fraud. We want to share this information with the security community as quickly as possible and M3AAWG is an active channel for disseminating this data. On the other hand, in order to commercialize this work, we need input from security professionals who are dealing with these challenges every day. M3AAWG closes this loophole by providing the operational feedback that helps us turn our research into products industry can use to solve specific threats.”
M3AAWG is recruiting university cybersecurity research programs to join its anti-abuse work so it can provide its members access to the experimental processes and academic studies that help improve end-user security. The in-depth research at these institutions is especially important in a world where criminals can change a bot’s coding to avoid detection in just minutes and new threats are always emerging.
In addition, universities also can participate in other projects. For example, Dr. Mustaque Ahamad, professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Computer Science, is co-chair of the M3AAWG Voice and Telephony Abuse Special Interest Group, according to Michael Adkins, M3AAWG chairman.
"Georgia Tech has developed one of the leading computer science programs in the world and has a strong understanding of anti-abuse issues,” Adkins said. “They have presented groundbreaking research at our meetings in the past, including early research on the effectiveness of bot mitigation notifications with its study of the DNS Charger program in 2013, data on new malware infections and updates on known threats. We look forward to strengthening our relationship with their researchers, bringing the latest threat findings to our members, and providing input on new research and processes."
The recently established Institute for Information Security and Privacy (IISP) at Georgia Tech will significantly grow these research programs and related curricula to make fundamental advances in cybersecurity.