(Day 07 – 01 -2010)
Today, I had a meeting with Dr. Matthew Wright, the faculty member that I would be working under for the REU project. He started by giving me a brief introduction of two broad areas of study. Both of the projects seemed so different, yet equally so cool. After, he ask me what would I be more interested in. I was shocked because I had not known much about either and I was expecting him to give me a list of objectives that he would require me to finish by week one, week two, etc. After I choose security over networks, he assigned a date that we would meet again so I could learn more. The meeting adjourned and we went into another room where standing in front of me, were about seven graduate students. I meet each one and then went home to ready for the start of my program.
Today, I began reading a document called “RAINBOW: A Robust and Invisible Non-Blind Watermark for Network Flows”. This document had words that I had never even seen before. Some of the words I could hardly pronounce. The document was a mountain to climb. I was very overwhelmed. When I finally reached the middle of the article, I was overcome by some of the most complicated mathematical equations I had ever seen in lifetime. I had to take a break.
Today was a waste of a day. I battled my way through understanding the math problems on my own. After looking and trying to understand two math problems across the time span of two hours? I know that I would need help. I plan on going to the math clinic tomorrow. For the mean time, I skipped the math problems and finish the back half of the document. I knew that I would have to present what I understood from the paper this Thursday. Fortunately enough, the back half of the article was straight forward and very understandable.
Today was a good day. I went to the math clinic and found a tutor there that was willing enough to give me the time of day. I spent about 3-4 hours with him. It was worth it though, because I now have a grasp of what is going on in the paper.
Today I began starting on another article suggested by Dr. Wright. This was a wrong idea because I feel as though I am losing grasp of the article I had spent the last couple days on. The article that I had started reading was an article representing “SNEAK”. So far, I all I know that SNEAK is a hacker scheme that had the ability to crack multiple hacker detection schemes. Most interesting of all, is that it was created especially to defeat the RAINBOW detection scheme.
Today was the day I presented my understanding of the RAINBOW article. I knew from the second that I started, that I had made a mistake by starting to read a conflicting article. The presentation was unstable and everywhere. Dr. Wright was very understanding though. He corrected me when I was wrong and thanked me for my time. Although I felt bad for doing a “bad” job, Dr. Wright seems to be a really good to research considering his personality. Lastly, I am definitely going back to reread the RAINBOW before I lose everything that I had read.
Today, I read everything in the RAINBOW article again with the exception of the mathematical section. What is AINBOW? RAINBOW is a hacker detection that attempts to use both passive and active detection to create RAINBOW. In passive detection, packet timings are observed as they flow upstream and downstream. In active detection, typically watermarking detection, a special watermark is placed on data flowing through one stream and the differences are analyzed as the data flows down the other stream. With RAINBOW, is sends a certain number of unwatermarked data and watermarks the other half. By doing this with the implementation of cross-correlation, the results yield less information lost and results display a lowering in uncertainty.
The mathematical formulas all together dealt with a number of different things. The initial formulas dealt with watermarking data. The later formulas were purely for data analysis.
Today, I talked with Dr. Wright and mentioned that I still had gained no preference. It all seemed so interesting to me. His responded that I seemed to have an interest, but that I must narrow it down because no one can research everything. Even after telling him that I would do whatever he needed me to do, he told me to keep reading. I think know that I am dealing with a different man, he seems to not demand me maybe as a way for me to inspire myself.
Day Off, preparing for group meeting tomorrow
Today, I did two things. I first attended a meeting starting at 11:30 AM. Here was a show and tell day with Tara, Austin, Prateek, and I. We all took turns showing what we have been working up and what we expect to do next. When it came to my turn, I presented my SNEAK article, but when it came to what I was going to do next I had nothing. I asked the group what I could to actually start getting my hands on something other than readings. They provided with important advice. Austin was running experiments that were made by someone in order to analyze the results. After I went to the ethics workshop sponsored by the REU program. This was a round table discussion about personal moral and ethical situations that we, each REU student, had experienced personally in our lives. I referenced certain high school situations. Unfortunately, almost everyone else made reference to very similar things. So I felt as though my personal story was not that special anymore.
Today, I prepared for the meeting by marking details in my articles.
At the team meeting, I was able to sit down and listen to Tara(my supervisor), Austin, and Prateek and hear what they were working on. Austin was running experiments that were made by someone else to analyze the effects. Tara was working with high latency networks. Prateek was translating a certain code segment from C to Python (these are both programming languages). He is doing this in order to make this document more accessible to others. I, at the time, still had no idea about what I wanted to do, but they told me that my grasp of the knowledge was good. After that, I attended the ethics workshop. That was a round table discussion about personal moral and ethical situations that we, each REU student, had experienced personally in our lives. I referenced certain high school situations. Unfortunately, most everyone else made reference to very similar things. So, my story did not seem as special.
Today, an email went out stating that there was going to be a meeting next Thursday. This was an exciting turn of events because now that I knew how Dr. Wright worked, I thought it would be a great opportunity to surprise him with an incredible proposal. I also knew that there was almost nothing that I, being an undergraduate, could say to a man with his doctrine that would make become surprised to any extent. I remembered though that Dr. Wright said that if I needed any more good references, then that I could look up the references in the papers that I had just read to gain more insight. So, I started reading some more articles in attempt to impress.
Today was a depressing day for research. I read an entire article to find it close but still a bit too irrelevant.
I found a great article today. It is something that could exploit covert channels. This is something that Dr. Wright had mentioned in my first meeting with him. This article seems to be promising.
The article is named “Keyboards and Cover Channels”. After my presentation, I will record my findings after I have reviewed the article some more.
The article was called “Keyboard and Covert Channels”. What I learned is that a cover channel is almost a mythical channel that, when exploited, special information can be sent through it in order to obtain and decrypt information. This was implemented by attaching a special hardware to a computer, in this case a keyboard, and the device detects whenever any key is not pressed and when this occurs the necessary attachment is sent down the channel. The information is then recovered on a receiver as bits of data.
Today, I came around and there was the Skype meeting. I presented my information that I found. I explained how this was something that I had wanted to work on and model maybe in an experiment. Unfortunately, I was ready for a very typical response, “How are you going to setup and run the experiment”? It has been three weeks and I finally found something that I wanted to study further into and I do not know how something can be achieved. The keyboard “jitterbug”, the device used to exploit the covert channel, was a hardware piece attached to sender computer as the sender sent messages to the initial receiver. The jitterbug branched off to deliver the bits of information of secondary receiver. Meaning to mimic the experiment, I would needed three computers and to attach a special device to the keyboard of one and make a way for the eavesdropper computer to receive the information bits. This would take too long and cost too much to make and implement.
Today, I had a meeting with Austin pertaining the REU program. I still had not gained access to DETER, software used for running experiments dealing with security. Austin is an undergraduate that works in the information security laboratory. He told me that I could watch him perform experiments and get a feel of how the DETER program works. He said that his next experiment is taking place tomorrow night 07-26-2010
Today, I watched Austin perform an experiment. The process called for a lot of down time, as the program runs for a certain period of time (i.e. This experiment ran for 11 minutes).
Today, Austin and I reviewed the experiment in greater detail. He mentioned that if that was something that I wanted to do, we would ran an analyze process and read graphs.
During the REU assessment, Dr. Daza had us sign consent forms explaining that we either give or deny others from viewing our results. She explained a survey that all the REU students are required to take so the REU program can evaluate if the program is working. What can be improved?, etc. I filled out the consent forms and went to class.
Today was the REU Research Training and Graduate Studies Workshop. This workshop was extended over a long period of time filled with nothing else except hearing graduate students and professors speak. There were also top representatives of certain student organizations there to speak about their personal experiences. The most interesting part to me was hearing college experiences from Dr. Wright.
I talked with Austin some in regards to the REU. He seemed to be the easiest, most accessible guy to work with. He told me that I could watch some more experiments and that I could also try a little bit myself. This night, I came home to read some more documents.
Today, Austin and I met again to setup what I needed to do and how could it be done in such a short time period? After that, Austin gave me a reminder about the experiment being run tomorrow.
I watched Austin run an experiment tonight. The analyze will tell us how the experiment went. Right now the results are in numbers that cannot be interpreted easily or efficiently.
Today, I did the REU survey. When taking the survey given to me by Dr. Daza, I could not help but notice that a lot of the questions where geared toward engineering majors. As I took the survey, I just wondered on how the non-engineering majors that are in this program reacted.
Today was the most critical day in my whole research experience. I got to run the analysis programs with Austin. The program took all of the information and packed them into folders. The results were then copied and pasted to a Microsoft Excel document in order to generate a graph and the graphs were to be analyzed. The two graphs needed were eavesdropper cross correlation and eaves dropper selective cross correlation.
Today, I wrote my reflection paper and opened added this document to the blog web page.
Today, I worked towards my powerpoint and poster.
Today, my poster was orientated the wrong way and improvements had to be made.
Today, I meet with Dr. Wright regarding the final presentations tomorrow.