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Başar writes the book on network security

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By Tom Moone, ECE ILLINOIS
January 25, 2011

  • ECE Professor Tamer Başar and ECE alumnus Tansu Alpcan have a new book, Network Security, which is published by Cambridge University Press
  • Their book combines game theory, decision theory, and control theory to create and develop an understanding of the diversity of network security problems.
  • The book is designed for researchers and graduate students, but it will have an appeal to practitioners in the security field.

Tamer  Başar
Tamer Başar

With such news items as Wikileaks and news stories of businesses that have been hacked and had information stolen, the topic of network security has regularly been a main topic in the media. It is clear that there is a great need for strong approaches to security for networks.

ECE Professor Tamer Başar and his co-author Tansu Alpcan (MSEE ’01, PhD ’06) are providing assistance to those who are fighting security threats with their new publication Network Security, which has just been published by Cambridge University Press.

Başar and Alpcan started working on the topic of security more than seven years ago when Alpcan was a graduate student at Illinois. Their goal was to apply “a more systematic way of formulating network intrusion problems and network security problems in general,” said Başar.

The difficulty with computer networks is that there can never be 100% security. “If you want your laptop or your computer to be secure, you can take it off the Internet,” said Başar. “That’s the only way to keep them out of harm’s way.”

Of course, this would also keep people from communicating or sharing information over the Internet. A balance has to be developed that will allow free exchange of information while also providing security that is as good as can be made available.

A new book on network security by ECE Professor Tamer Ba┼čar and ECE alumnus Tansu Alpcan (MSEE '01, PhD '06) has been published by Cambridge University Press.
A new book on network security by ECE Professor Tamer Ba┼čar and ECE alumnus Tansu Alpcan (MSEE '01, PhD '06) has been published by Cambridge University Press.

In their preface, Alpcan and Başar state that their book will “present a theoretical foundation for making resource allocation decisions that balance available capabilities and perceived security risks in a principled manner.” Previously, approaches to network security have focused on just one aspect of security, such as protocols, hardware, or cryptography.

 “Our approach was one of the first to adopt what’s called the game theoretic approach,” said Başar. In fact, their book combines models they have derived using game theory, decision theory, and control theory to create and develop an understanding of the diversity of network security problems. They have developed an approach that takes all approaches to security into account.

Their approach should have broad appeal. “It is something we think both faculty researchers in academia and graduate students would be very interested in reading, as well as practitioners to see how in a rigorous and comprehensive way such problems can be modeled and how they can be addressed,” said Başar.

Concurrent with this book, a new conference series was launched: The Conference on Decision and Game Theory for Security, or GameSec. The inaugural conference was held in November 2010 in Berlin. This year, the second one in this new series will be held in Maryland, again in November. “Even though it was the first such meeting, the attendance was very good in Berlin, with both academia and industry represented well. There were even participants from government agencies, such as the London office of the American Office of Naval Research,” said Başar. “It is a timely, hot topic.”

More information on the book can be found on the Cambridge University Press website.

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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