The Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS)

The Center for Education and Research in
Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS)

Natural Language Information Assurance and Security (NL-IAS) at CERIAS

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Since its inception, CERIAS has supported a new initiative in cyber security that opened a new front of research and implementation of existing and new applications. A group of researchers led by Mike Atallah and Victor Raskin initiated the porting of the former’s Ontological Semantics into Information Security on an understanding that much of the information that needs protection and authentication is in natural language and that this approach affords new and exciting ways of preventing and repelling cyber attacks. CERIAS was, thus, a pioneer of NL-IAS, which has been supported first by internally awarded Lilly Foundation’s sponsored grants and REU’s on existing NSF grants and later by large and medium Trustworthy Computing research grants, where NL-IAS was amalgamated with such related topics as website privacy policy statements and digital identities.

Early in the 2000s, the Atallah-Raskin group successfully ported NL-IAS into the information hiding applications (Atallah, Raskin et al. 2001, 2002), such as the watermarking and tamperproofing of NL text, steganography and some steganalysis. Overall, the effort addressed a dozen of pertinent applications brought to various levels of implementation. For a brief introduction to Ontological Semantics and the review of NL-IAS applications, see Raskin (2004).

The most sophisticated application called Semantic Forensics (Raskin et al. 2004) flagged apparent contradictions and inexplicable omissions in text and thus contributed to the deception detection effort. This was picked up recently by the team led by Victor Raskin and Julia Taylor in their work on unintended inferences and their use in detecting and exposing insider threat and social engineering (Taylor and Raskin 2010; Raskin et al. 2010). Christian F. “Kiki” Hempelmann, a member of the initial Atallah-Raskin research group, has occasionally lent a hand to the later effort as well.

A related technique is employed in a current sponsored research on the anonymization and re-identification prevention in private medical records, which is a part of the NSF TC grant (Chris Clifton, PI; Raskin and Luo Si, Co-PIs). The new NL-IAS initiatives include the use of humor profiling for defense against social engineering, the use of the unsaid in exposing phishing before clicking on the website. They are also carried into the virgin territory of robotic intelligence.

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