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Stony Brook University computer scientist Nick Nikiforakis.
Source: Stony Brook University

There is a new project in development that attracts, “fingerprints,” and tracks web bots used for attacks, such as the exploitation of stolen credentials used to steal private information or money, in order to identify those behind the web botting.

Stony Brook University computer scientist Nick Nikiforakis received a 2018 Amazon Research Award or his work in Internet security. The award includes $64,000.

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Nikiforakis, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science in the College of Engineering & Applied Sciences at Stony Brook University and affiliate of Stony Brook’s National Security Institute, works on practical, hands-on security and privacy, much of which includes the measurement of online abuse and countermeasures against unwanted tracking. The project is entitled “ICBots: Tools and Techniques for Detecting Web Bots.”

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For the most part, web bots are benign. For instance, without bots there could be no Google search. Malicious web bots, however, are used for a variety of nefarious purposes including the exploitation of stolen credentials to log in to as many online assets as possible, in order to steal private information, money, or even air miles.

Nikiforakis’ ICBots project builds websites that exist only for the purpose of attracting web bots. These bots are then “fingerprinted” and tracked to identify which are malicious so they can be dealt with.

“Receiving an Amazon Research Award puts our project in very select company with many of the most well-respected academic institutions around the world,” Nikiforakis said.

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