UW MSR Summer Institute 2014
Security Analytics: Challenges, Opportunities, and New Directions
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The 2014 Summer Institute, cosponsored by the University of Washington Computer Science & Engineering and Microsoft Research will be held at the Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, Washington from July 28-30, 2014. Cle Elum is located in the Cascades, ninety minutes southeast of Seattle.


Security analytics is a field of computer science that involves the detailed analysis of datasets to make security-related conclusions. While this field is already identified as fundamentally important in academia, industry, and government, security analytics has become ever more important and challenging with the unprecedented amount of available data. The 2014 UW/MSR Summer Institute will bring together experts from a variety of domains, with the goal of discussing and addressing key challenges to advancing the field of security analytics.

Topics to discuss include, but are not limited to:

  • Identifying, obtaining access to, and cultivating quality datasets. A fundamental challenge for security analytics researchers and practitioners is the identification and acquisition of appropriate datasets to study. Numerous classes of datasets exist, including datasets obtained by organizations during their normal course of operation (e.g., the logs that a company might collect) and datasets obtained via external measurements (e.g., data that researchers might collect by crawling the web or by interacting with known-criminal parties).
  • Sharing datasets. A related, and fundamental challenge -- for all stakeholders (academics, industry experts, and governments) -- is to determine appropriate methods to exchange datasets between organizations, or between different units of the same organization. Data sharing can benefit both the originator and the consumer of the data, and can also enable analytics over multiple, rich, diverse datasets.
  • Data analysis techniques. There are numerous techniques for data analysis, including techniques cultivated within the security community and techniques cultivated in related communities. Each new dataset may require or benefit from different analysis techniques. This summer institute will discuss the challenges and opportunities for further advancement and adoption of data analysis techniques. We will consider what sorts of techniques should be "standard," what new techniques we need, and what sorts of criteria should we place on the quality of the techniques.
  • Visualization. Data analytics can benefit from advanced visualization techniques. We will explore the application of known data visualization methods to security analytics, as well as the innovation of domain-specific visualization methods.
  • Identifying and addressing challenges faced by practitioners. This Summer Institute offers a rare opportunity for different communities (research, industry, and government) to interact with each other, with a goal of helping ensure that the research community is addressing problems of direct, practical importance to industry and government.
  • Ethics, policy, and community standards. We will explore ethics and policy issues surrounding, as well as community standards for, academic, industry, and government use of and research in security analytics.
  • Publishability. Research, and the field as a whole, benefits from the sharing of knowledge. The Summer Institute will be one vehicle for sharing this knowledge. But other opportunities exist, such as traditional academic publications or trade events. We will discuss the benefits, risks, and challenges with publishing results on security analytics research, including dealing with data anonymity and reproducibility.
  • Questions. In addition to identifying and discussing key challenges that this field will need to address and tackle in the future, we will also explore specific shorter-range questions of potential interests -- questions about datasets that we do not know how to answer today, but that we wish to answer in the future. We will also discuss what makes a "good" data analytics research question.

The 2014 UW/MSR Summer Institute will address the above topics, as well as others, using both structured and less structured sessions. Please join us at Suncadia, to discuss and make progress on these important issues!

Organizers: Tadayoshi Kohno (UW CSE), Helen Wang (MSR), and Weidong Cui (MSR)

Descriptions of past summer institutes may be viewed at: www.cs.washington.edu/events/mssi/.