Cybersecurity is Topic of President’s Lecture by Stephen Checkoway

February 24, 2023

Communications Staff

Stephen Checkoway.
Associate Professor of Computer Science Stephen Checkoway.
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones '97

Associate Professor of Computer Science Stephen Checkoway, a scholar of cybersecurity systems, will present his research in the annual President’s Lecture on Friday, March 3. The talk will be held at 12:15 p.m. in Dye Lecture Hall in the Oberlin Science Center.

In his talk, “Thinking like an Adversary to Protect Computer Systems,” Checkoway will explain how computer systems control everything from access to sensitive health and financial information to a car’s anti-lock braking system. It is critical that these systems operate safely and correctly, especially in the presence of an adversary with a strong motive (usually financial) to make the systems misbehave in some way.

Checkoway will describe one of the key tools computer security researchers and practitioners use to secure these critical computer systems: adversarial thinking. He will give examples of how thinking like an adversary can demonstrate the existence of vulnerabilities, and suggest defenses against attacks in multiple domains, including examples from his work hacking computers used in cars and general aviation.

In 2021, Checkoway received the prestigious Golden Goose Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his role in research that led automakers to adopt new security practices. While a PhD student at the University of California, Checkoway was part of a team that investigated whether a vehicle’s computing systems could be hacked and how that would affect a driver's ability to control their car.

The team published a pair of landmark papers showing how these vehicles could have their mechanical functions overridden by a remote attacker.

The Golden Goose Award honors federally funded work that may have been considered obscure when first conducted but has resulted in significant benefits to society.

Checkoway teaches courses in programming and security. 

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