CI students’ research accepted at the KES2019 international conference in Budapest

KES 2019 conference in Budapest, Hungary

CI Computer Science students were successful in submitting three papers to KES 2019, the 23rd International Conference on Knowledge-Based and Intelligent Information & Engineering Systems, which this year is taking place in Budapest, Hungary, in September 2019. The papers are the following:

  • Approximating consistency in pairwise comparisons, co-authored by Chris Kuske, Konrad Kułakowski and Michael Soltys. Chris Kuske was a masters student in Computer Science at CI, and this paper is the result of his masters thesis [pdf], which was co-supervised by Prof. Konrad Kułakowski (AGH), who at the time was a Kościuszko Scholar in Computer Science at CI. Chris Kuske is a Software Lead at Teledyne Controls where he develops avionics software for commercial aircrafts. (This paper will be presented in the Invited Session IS18: Decision modeling with and without pairwise comparisons.)
  • SEAKER: A mobile digital forensics triage device, co-authored by Eric Gentry and Michael Soltys. Eric Gentry was a masters student in Computer Science at CI, and currently working at GBL Systems, and lecturing for Computer Science at CI. This paper is the result of a collaboration between Computer Science at CI and the SoCal High Technology Task Force. For more details on this collaboration please see here. (This paper will be presented in the Invited Session IS13: Cybercrime Investigation and Digital Forensics.)
  • Deploying Health Campaign Strategies to Defend Against Social Engineering Threats, co-authored by Noelle Abe and Michael Soltys. Noelle Abe is a senior student at CI, who just graduated this May with a degree in Computer Science. Noelle Abe was both a President’s Scholar at CI, and the vice-president of the Computer Science Girls Club. This paper was initiated by Noelle as part of her research as an exchange student in the UK in 2017. (This paper will be presented in the Invited Sessions IS24: Knowledge-based Learning and Education Support System: Design and Function.)


Raspberry Pi controller, the hardware for SEAKER

In the summer 2017, while I was teaching COMP 524 (Cybersecurity) at California State University Channel Islands, the students were introduced to a project based on an R&D from the SoCal High Technology Task Force (HTTF). The requirements and specifications asked for a device that could automate the search through vast amounts of data contained in portable devices (such as hard disks and thumb-drives), looking for pre-established patterns in file-names.

The students designed and prototyped a device the we christened SEAKER (Storage Evaluator and Knowledge Extractor Reader), based on a Raspberry Pi, with a custom designed version of Raspbian (the OS running on Raspberry Pis), and a bash shell script for cloning such devices. The first presentation of SEAKER took place on August 7, 2017, to an audience composed of CI faculty and students, as well as investigators from the SoCal HTTF.

As SEAKER was being developed, it was presented at various other venues, for example:

We have also published the research resulting from the SEAKER project:

  • As the masters thesis of Eric Gentry, April 2019 [pdf]
  • In the proceedings of the 2019 Future of Information and Communication Conference (FICC) [doi]
  • To appear in the proceedings of the 2019 23rd International Conference on Knowledge-Based and Intelligent Information & Engineering Systems (KES), track: Cybercrime Investigation and Digital Forensics

Cybersecurity event @CSUCI on April 20, 2018

On the evening of April 20, 2018 Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin and CSU Channel Islands president Erica D. Beck co-hosted a Cybersecurity event  in Sierra Hall, promoting regional industry partnerships. At this event we had the opportunity to showcase our work – three masters students and one senior student presented research under my supervision:

Zane Gittins spoke about his network penetration testing at HAAS: this work started as a Hank Lacayo Internship at HAAS in the fall of 2017, but since then Zane has been hired by HAAS to continue his work.

Eric Gentry spoke about the SEAKER project, a digital forensic tool that was developed with and for the High Technology Task Force (HTTF) at the Ventura forensic lab. We presented this tool at an event on August 7, 2017.

Geetanjali Agarwal spoke about the Image Recognition project, also inspired by the work done at the HTTF at the Ventura lab, where we aim to identify images from partially recovered files and compare them to a bank of images using the difference hash technique.

Ryan McIntyre presented his work on algorithms in bio-informatics. These results have been published recently in the Journal of Discrete Algorithms, and described in a blog post on March 6, 2018.

Here are the presentation slides.

I introduced the students making some remarks elaborating on president Beck’s statement about partnerships between CI and the Ventura industry. As a CI faculty, I find interdependence in the triad of Scholarship, Teaching and Industry relations. Many of our projects start by addressing a Research & Development need of the community, such as the SEAKER tool for HTTF. We use it to teach our students a hands-on approach to problem solving in Computer Science; we aim to produce quality work that advances knowledge and is publishable.

Scholarship, the first component of the triad, is really composed of three simultaneous activities: the research itself, which is laborious, time consuming, consisting of literature review and the cycle of hypothesis, testing and proving.

The funding component: labs, equipment, salaries, conferences, all these require funds, which can be secured through grants, philanthropic gifts or state support.

And finally dissemination, which is crucial as without it no one is aware of our work, and which takes place through publishing, conference presentations, blog writing, and events such as the one described in this blog. At CI we are lucky in that Advancement facilitates both fundraising and dissemination.

Speaking at the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce

my remarks

  • Thank you for the opportunity to tell you about Computer Science at CI
  • We are a fast growing Dept we doubled our majors to 400 in the last 3 years
  • We are starting a new engineering program in Mechatronics (Mechanical & Engineering) this fall after years of preparation.
  • We have a program in IT, one Computer Science, and the new Mechatronics program. Also programs in Cybersecurity, robotics, and Game design.
  • We work with the local community: with IT & Manufacturing companies, with Navy, HTTF, and we started an Advisory Board consisting of heads of local business & industry.
  • To give you an idea about our work, I will talk about 3 directions, but there are many more:
    • Houman Dallali Mechatronics he was the first targeted Mechatronics hire, and he works in intelligent prosthetics. Cheap Controllers (Raspberry Pi’s) and 3D printers have revolutionized our field, but ours is still an expensive endeavor and we rely on the community for example, companies such as Advanced Motion or Amgen have given us equipment.
    • Jason Isaacs Swarmathon Jason has a PhD in engineering from UCSB, like most of our faculty has years of industrial experience, but loves the University setting and has come back. NASA wants to go to Mars, and Jason and his student are participating in one aspect of that endeavor: a swarm of robots that will be released on Mars to collect raw components to make fuel for the journey back home. We took 3rd place at the competition at Cape Canaveral in Florida in 2017.
    • I work in Algorithms generally speaking, they are the snippets of ideas that become code that run your computers. But I also work, and consult, in Cybersecurity, and we have an ongoing collaboration with HTTF. Set up by the Secret Service and the FBI to aid local law enforcement in dealing with the sophisticated digital crime, they have a lab in Camarillo, at a secret location, and our students have worked on several R&D projects for them, for example SEAKER last summer.
  • Today I have brought two students with me Vlad Synnes and Samuel Decanio who will tell you a little bit about themselves, and a little bit about Voyager” a project that we did for the HTTF.

CI Computer Science students build a digital forensic tool

On August 7, 2017, the CI Computer Science students presented a prototype of a digital forensic tool, which we named SEAKER (Storage Evaluator and Knowledge Extraction Reader), as part of their Masters COMP 524 Cybersecurity course. This project was a collaboration between the Ventura County District Attorney (VCDA) Digital Forensics Lab and CI Computer Science, under the umbrella of the SoCal High Technology Task Force (HTTF).

The students presented a live demo with devices supplied by the Ventura County DA.  The SEAKER prototype was able to compile search results in less than a minute depending on the size of the device. According to VCDA officials at the presentation this is a remarkable increase in efficiency and will be a useful tool in the field: while imaging of a hd can take up to 4 hours, SEAKER performs a triage search in minutes.

Digital Forensics (DF) deals with the recovery and investigation of clues from digital devices (computers, handhelds, iPads, routers, modems, DVRs, etc.). The goal of this effort is to support or refute a hypothesis in court. DF is a complex and technical field: it can be used to attribute evidence to specific suspects, confirm alibis or statements, determine intent, identify sources, or authenticate documents.

A DF investigation commonly consists of 3 stages: acquisition or imaging of exhibits, analysis and reporting. The SEAKER tool helps with the acquisition of data from digital devices in a way that prevents tampering.

The SEAKER project was a fantastic learning experience for our students, as its design and prototyping combined many different skills: The C programming language, BASH shell scripting, the Linux Operating Systems and command line, the Raspberry Pi hardware, Gliffy diagrams, Dropbox Paper (which we used as a Wiki); Slack collaborative discussion / brainstorming tool, the GitHub software repository which was used as a collaborative tool in the design of the software that animated the Raspberry Pi, WordPress blogging, AWS S3 which served as a repository of the final product, Grep (regular expressions and pattern matching), working with different file systems, and of course strict performance (speed, read only). All of this had to be combined by a group of 18 students, with different backgrounds and skill sets to produce something that could be used by DF examiners.

One of the CI pillars is Community Engagement and Service Learning. This approach identifies needs in the community, and builds a curriculum around research and development to address those needs. The SEAKER project is a great example of such a symbiotic relation between CI and the community. Also, it is an example of the strength of a pedagogical approach that combines both theory and practice. Without theory a field becomes a collection of ad hoc procedures. But without practice theory becomes an abstract exercise in intellectual virtuosity. We plan to build on the approach that combines the Service Learning and Theory & Practice paradigms as we go forward with our Computer Science program in Security Systems Engineering and our Masters level offering in Cybersecurity.

Some photos from the event:

Original event announcement.

SEAKER presentation at CI on August 7 at 6pm in DEL NORTE 1530


“Storage Evaluator And Knowledge Extraction Reader”

On Monday August 7, at 6pm, in DEL NORTE 1530, the COMP 524 (Cybersecurity) students will present their final project, a technical solution for the SoCal High Technology Task Force in Ventura. This project implements a digital forensic tool with strict performance requirements.

We used GitHub as the software repository, Dropbox Paper for the documentation Wiki, and AWS S3 for distribution of the production version of the software.

You are cordially invited to attend; the presentation will take about two hours, and there will be snacks (Short link to this post: