Newly Appointed Assistant Professor Dr. Navid Asadi Shares Insight into his Budding Career

The ECE FICS Research Department has had such an exciting year filled with distinguished accolades and growth. An eminent part of that expansion is Dr. Navid Asadizanjani the newly appointed assistant professor and SCAN Lab Assistant Director within the Florida Institute of Cybersecurity (FICS) Research Department. Dr. Asadi completed his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at the University of Connecticut in the year 2014. He has received various awards in his field such as ISFA best paper award and the D.E. Crow innovation prize. He expresses his appreciation and excitement in regard to his appointment, as we talk he tells me how he is adjusting and what he is planning to do in his awesome new role.

What is your area of expertise?

My area of expertise is hardware security focused on the physical inspection, the different sub areas which are associated with my background of mechanical engineering. My focus is physical inspection, advanced imaging, image processing, advanced microscopy. Counterfeit detection and prevention as well.

What projects are you currently working?

Counterfeit detection and prevention, reverse engineering and anti-reverse engineering plus physical attacks. For example, I look into different physical and microscopy based and imaging networks to examine how to detect a counterfeit and when I locate a counterfeit is, I come up with a solution of prevention. What I am currently working on is a way to automate the process of chip evaluation, which can be described as counterfeit detection and automation. Smart cards (A plastic card with a built in microprocessor used typically for electronic processes such as financial transactions and personal identification), are an additional project I am working on. Smart cards chips are the most secure way to protect information on credit and debit cards. Traditional credit card in which information is stored on stripes have no authentication process, the stripe doesn’t recognize who is using the card. Chipped cards require you to enter a pin which tells the station that the person using the card is the owner of the card. Newer versions being developed will require your fingerprint to authenticate the user.

What are your future plans and goals?

The initial goal is to let the community know the vulnerabilities of any of electronic systems. Attackers don’t publish there methods, they don’t publish papers. The second goal is to come up with countermeasures. My role in counterfeit measures concentrates on the physical structure of the chip. In terms of the material used, design and structure of the cards and chips, the package and physical features of a chip. This is an exaggerated example of a hardware countermeasure, “Adding a specified material to your cellphone that will counter an attack on critical information when triggered that material will cause the phone to clear the information or detonate the chip.”

What inspired you to pursue the areas of engineering and cyber-security?
I knew I was going to pursue engineering but I didn’t know I would work in cyber-security until four or five years ago…My Ph.D. is in mechanical engineering, I was doing imaging and image processing for Turbine Blades and Jet engines, we examined failure and crack analysis. After meeting Dr. Mark Tehranipoor and Dr. Domenic Forte at U-Conn (University of Connecticut), they helped me to recognize how my experience and knowledge could be applied to cyber and hardware security. To me the subject was very interesting and has a large impact on our society. After this realization I thought this looks fun and interesting.

What are some of your hobbies?
I like cooking and swimming. I cook a lot of Persian foods especially Persian kabob.

What is one of your best memories?
During my high school career I was a member of the water-polo team. One year we won the National Championship! That was a really good feeling, we really enjoyed it.

What is your favorite meal? Restaurant? Food? Dessert?
Persian food of course but also I enjoy the steak at Embers Grill not too far away, the burgers at Square One… for dessert I like saffron ice-cream.

How do you assist your students in developing their work?
I try to look at the main idea, the intellectual contribution that someone has in their work. There is always this really shiny cool idea behind their work the rest are just branches and leaves… but the idea, once that is identified then we can explore how it can be useful, applied to our field or can inspire future work.

What literature do you read to stay current in your field?
I try to always check the electrical engineering time’s website it’s a really good website. I am also apart of certain Linked-In Communities in counterfeiting and anti-counterfeiting that have really good discussion boards. I often add myself to email listing to major companies in our field to receive the latest updates.

Now for some difficult questions, you’re a new addition to a crayon box. What color would you be and why?
This is a difficult question, I think the color blue, because it’s more relaxed and reminds me of the ocean.

What is the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
House of Cards a friend of mine suggested it.

Who would win in fight between Batman and Spiderman?
I don’t know who wins… Batman is going to lose Spiderman is genetically advanced.

A penguin walks into your office wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
He would say he is here to take me on a cruise Antarctica.