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On DrexelNOW: CCI’s Privacy, Security and Automation Lab Uses Coding Style to Identify Anonymous Programmers

March 4, 2015

A team of computer scientists, led by researchers from Drexel University’s College of Computing & Informatics (CCI), have devised a way to lift the veil of anonymity protecting cybercriminals by turning their malicious code against them. Their method uses a parsing program to break down lines of code, like an English teacher diagramming a sentence, and then another program captures distinctive patterns that can be used to identify its author.

“Just like writers and artists, every coder has a unique style all their own,” said Aylin Caliskan-Islam, a doctoral student at Drexel who developed the system and is the lead author of a recently posted technical report about it. “Our process distills the most important characteristics of a programmer’s style —which is the first step toward identifying anonymous authors, tracking cybercriminals and settling intellectual property questions.”

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