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Google’s $100K cybersecurity award given to University of California Santa Barbara

Google’s $100K cybersecurity award given to University of California Santa Barbara

Lastline Co-Founder and CTO, Giovanni Vigna, has been awarded a $100,000 “Security, Privacy and Anti-Abuse” award from Google, Inc., for his research work “related to Cybercrime Understanding and Innovative Malware Detection Techniques,” which he performed at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB).

Giovanni Vigna, Ph.D, has a long history of excellence in publishing research and software related to malware detection. Dr. Vigna, together with Dr. Christopher Kruegel, also of UCSB, and Dr. Engin Kirda of Northeastern University in Boston, have long led teams of malware researchers from their respective institutions plus University of Vienna and Eurecom Institute in France. As a group, they are associated with the International Security Lab (, and they have published hundreds of scientific papers in top conferences, addressing all facets of advanced malware, from cybercrime and the underground economy, to the analysis of evasive malware using static and dynamic analysis, to the identification of malicious web sites, to new approaches to protect Android applications. Together in 2011, these three professors founded Lastline, Inc., to bring to market the industry’s most effective malware detection sandboxing technology.

Today, Dr. Vigna, as Lastline’s Chief Technology Officer, remains tightly connected to his academic roots and committed to the advanced research and discovery that has reshaped the security sector’s state-of-the-art for evasive malware detection.   His leadership has helped formulate and evolve enterprise security best practices.  Through his efforts, Lastline has again in 2016 been recognized by several leading analyst and testing organizations for its innovative solutions.  In addition to industry success, the founders’ academic teams have been similarly distinguished.

This past summer, Dr. Vigna led the “Shellphish” computer science team (made up of graduate students from UC Santa Barbara) to the finals of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)-sponsored Cyber Grand Challenge, in which Artificial Intelligence Autonomous Hacking Systems competed against one another. Shellphish was one of 7 teams that qualified for the finals of the competition, which happened this past August. The team’s autonomous system, Mechanical Phish, placed third at the competition, bringing home a $750,000 cash award.

“There is a different bar that is set in academics that lends itself particularly well in the cybersecurity industry,” said Giovanni Vigna. “In Silicon Valley, there is this concept of shipping a product which it is ‘good enough.’ In academia, the focus is on novel ideas. Only through innovation one can stay ahead of the ever-changing threat landscape. We have brought this line of thinking into Lastline, which continuously innovate its approach to malware analysis to deliver the most effective protection to its customers. It is not a coincidence that Lastline was independently tested out this year with the highest detection rate and zero false positives – establishing another set of performance accuracy benchmarks for threat detection and mitigation.”

About Japonica Jackson

Japonica is head of editorial at IT Security Guru. If you'd like to get in touch with Japonica, please email