KAUST New Faculty: Marc Dacier, Professor of Computer Science

Marc Dacier, professor of computer science.
By David Murphy

Marc Dacier, professor of computer science, joins KAUST as a member of the Resilience Computing and Cybersecurity Research Center (RC3) from his most recent position as full professor and department head of the digital security department at EURECOM.

Dacier holds a Ph.D. degree ('94) in computer science (European Doctorate) from the Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse, France. He is also the recipient of scientific awards and has served on over 120 security and dependability conferences program committees.

The Belgian researcher has worked for several notable companies and institutions in a distinguished career spread through academia and industry. These include as a consultant for France Telecom, a member of IBM ResearchSymantec Research Labs, and the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI).

At IBM, Dacier was the director of the IBM Global Security Analysis Laboratory and his group produced a market-first product for intrusion detection alerts correlation. While at Symantec, his team built, among other things, an open platform called Worldwide Intelligent Network Environment (WINE) to share operational security data with researchers worldwide to promote the reproducibility of security experiments. During his three years at QCRI, he served as the founding director of the institute’s cybersecurity research group.

Having joined KAUST in June 2021, the internationally recognized expert in cybersecurity will focus his research on intrusion detection, intrusion tolerance, network security, cybersecurity, threat intelligence, fraud detection. Dacier sees KAUST as the ideal research landscape to develop his cybersecurity solutions to lessen ongoing fraud issues in the gaming industry, particularly in massively distributed games.

“KAUST is an ideal environment to excel in research while maintaining a good work-life balance, particularly since all the facilities are close by and easy to access,” he noted. “I am also hopeful that this university is a place where interdisciplinarity is a reality due to the frequent interactions between researchers from different fields and professions.”

Dacier perceives his current role as that of a problem solver capable of addressing real-world issues unsolvable with existing solutions. In particular, he is interested in further developing novel network-based intrusion detection and threat intelligence assessment technology.

“At KAUST, one of my goals is to apply my expertise to solve security issues related to zero-configuration protocols. I also want to focus on the IoT ecosystem and OT (Operational Technology) networks, which are of particular interest to the oil and water industries. I believe this form of research can be beneficial to both KAUST and Saudi Arabia in general,” he explained.

“During my undergraduate days, there was simply no curriculum or place where to learn about cybersecurity. Thus, I decided to do a Ph.D. to have the chance to dig deeper into that emerging field. Consequently, I got the research virus and haven’t found a cure for it since!"