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November 2008

Security researchers leading way in biometrics, insider threats, encryption and virtualization

Even on the sprawling 52-inch high-definition screen, the black and white image is grainy, denying observers anything that resembles usable intelligence. The man's face, taken from surveillance footage, is obscured by a hood and poorly lit; his profile is barely visible. But the confident smirk on Marios Savvides' face tells a different story. So does the sure-handed urgency with which he rhythmically taps out commands on his keyboard. Within an instant the man's face, so barely distinguishable from the static, snowy image on the screen, begins to churn. Underneath, algorithms developed inside Savvides' biometrics lab at Carnegie Mellon University's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department whirr and whizz. Soon the outcome is there: A three-dimensional model of the subject's face that rotates at the whim of a mouse click. The animated model is a golden image, one that can be compared, for example, to images of known terrorists stored in a database. This is typical of the security brainpower percolating on the CMU campus, ...

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Columns in this issue