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Contact

Office Location

440 Huntington Avenue
348 West Village H
Boston, MA 02115

Mailing Address

Northeastern University
ATTN: Alina Oprea, 202 WVH
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115

Research Interests

  • Security analytics
  • Cloud security
  • Network security
  • Applied cryptography

Education

  • PhD in Computer Science – Carnegie Mellon University
  • MS Computer Science – Carnegie Mellon University
  • BS in Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Bucharest – Romania

Biography

Alina Oprea is an Associate Professor in the College of Computer and Information Science at Northeastern University. Alina is interested in extracting meaningful intelligence from different data sources for various security applications, designing rigorous machine learning techniques for learning and predicting sophisticated attackers’ behavior, and protecting cloud infrastructures against emerging threats. Prior to her position at Northeastern, Alina was a consultant research scientist at RSA Laboratories, where she performed research in cloud security, applied cryptography, foundations of cybersecurity, and security analytics.

Alina received a BS in mathematics and computer science from the University of Bucharest in Romania. She also earned MS and PhD degrees in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University in 2003 and 2007, respectively. Co-author of many journal and peer-review conference papers, Alina has also participated in a large number of technical program committees (IEEE S&P, NDSS, ACM CCS, ACSAC, DSN) and is a co-inventor on 20 issued patents. She is currently an associate editor for the ACM Transactions on Privacy and Security (TOPS) journal, and is the recipient of the Best Paper Award at the 2005 Network and Distributed System Security (NDSS) Conference and the 2011 Technology Review TR35 award for her research in cloud security.

About Me

Hometown

Bucharest, Romania

Field of research/teaching

Computer Security

What are the specifics of your educational background?

I majored in Mathematics and Computer Science at University of Bucharest, Romania, and in my senior year I got interested in cryptography and security after taking a class in mathematical foundations of cryptography. My undergraduate thesis was on the topic of off-line digital cash. I started a PhD at CMU in Computer Science, where I continued to pursue my interests in computer security, by applying my theoretical background to practical problems. My PhD thesis was on designing efficient cryptographic file systems for protecting confidentiality and integrity of data stored on untrusted storage servers.

What are your research interests?

My most recent focus is on applying data mining and machine learning algorithms to different security problems. Many areas (image classification, speech recognition, personalized medicine) benefit from availability of massive data sources and recent advances in accuracy of data science methods. My goal is to explore these advances in the area of computer security, by working on applications such as defending against advanced attackers, building more usable and secure systems, and designing algorithms that are resilient against adversarial manipulation.
I like to explore new topics that have practical relevance to current computer security issues, and my research evolved over the years into new areas of interest. I have broad interests in applied cryptography, cloud security, foundation of cyber security, and network security.

What courses/subjects do you teach?

This Fall, I introduce a new special topics course on security analytics, teaching students how machine learning can be applied to security. Students will learn how to discuss academic papers in a constructive manner, and conduct independently a research project in small teams.

What do you enjoy most/find most rewarding about what you teach?

It is a technically interesting and challenging topic, with high relevance to the industry. Students have different backgrounds, from cryptography to very applied systems security.

Where did you grow up or spend your most defining years?

My home town is Bucharest, Romania, and I spent first childhood years in the beautiful city of Sibiu from Transilvania.

Where did you study for your degrees?

I studied at the National College St Sava, Bucharest and University of Bucharest, Romania, both institutions with long heritage and tradition in mathematics and science.

What are the specifics of your industry experience?

I worked in an industry research group, RSA Laboratories (part of EMC), performing applied security research in various areas. As a consultant research scientist, I initiated new research directions, proposed specific projects, developed research prototypes to demonstrate their feasibility, and finally transferred them successfully into operational settings.