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What's next for StopBadware in Tulsa

Posted on August 20, 2015 - 16:27 by ccondon

We asked Tyler Moore, StopBadware's research advisor and the boffin who's taking over our core operations, to expand on his plans for the organization in Tulsa and to throw in some 90s references. He obliged. 

Dr. Tyler Moore on the new version of StopBadware

Recently we announced that StopBadware is transferring operations to the University of Tulsa. In today's blog post I will fill in some more details on this exciting new chapter of the organization. Some things will change as a result, but our non-profit mission to make the web safer will remain.

First, let me tell you a bit about myself and my history with StopBadware, which I hope will go a long way to help solve the mystery of how StopBadware has ended up in Tulsa. (Hint: it's not because of Hanson. And I promise the circumstances are happier than when Chandler was transferred there after sleeping in a meeting on Friends.)

I first began interacting with StopBadware in 2008 while I was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard's Center for Research on Computation and Society. I wanted to engage with StopBadware due to my research interests in cybercrime measurement. We collaborated on several projects, one of which culminated in a 2012 paper describing an experiment that demonstrated the impact of transmitting detailed notices in cleaning up websites distributing malware. The paper was co-authored by Marie Vasek, who is now my Ph.D student and Research Scientist at StopBadware.

Since 2013, StopBadware has been closely collaborating with my research team under Marie's supervision. The website testing intern has regularly been an undergraduate student I have recruited from my courses. Last year, I became StopBadware's research advisor, further formalizing my long-term involvement with the organization.

When StopBadware's board of directors decided earlier this year to move away from being a stand-alone 501c3 non-profit organization, I volunteered to bring StopBadware back to its roots in academia. StopBadware will become a program operating within the Security Economics Laboratory at the Tandy School of Computer Science at the University of Tulsa, where I cut my teeth as an undergraduate security researcher and where I recently joined the faculty.

This change in organization will bring several benefits. One is that it should greatly reduce operating costs, as I will be serving as Director pro bono, and we can share other overheads with an existing institution. Another is that we will be able to continue to serve as a true non-profit—something that in the eyes of staff and community is both unique and essential in this space.

The new StopBadware will concentrate on the core competencies that we offer. First, we will continue the testing and review program, in which anyone can request independent review of URLs blacklisted for malware by StopBadware's data providers. Second, we will continue the Data Sharing Program (DSP), in which StopBadware serves as a trusted broker for community-contributed feeds of security datasets. Third, StopBadware's research mission will be expanded. We plan to more extensively mine the data contributed to the DSP and other sources. Finally, we intend to greatly expand the publication of data related to web-based badware. Our aim is to provide even greater transparency into the fight against web-based malware, so that we might more accurately track progress, highlight accomplishments and encourage improvements on part of the community.

We still need your help, in terms of contributing data, services and financial assistance. Donations will still be required in order for StopBadware to continue thriving in the years ahead. If you are interested in supporting StopBadware as we move onto the next chapter, please get in touch by emailing me at [email protected].

- Tyler

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