Yinglian Xie receives 2021 CyLab Distinguished Alumni Award

Daniel Tkacik

Aug 31, 2021

Yinglian Xie

Source: Yinglian Xie

Yinglian Xie, a CyLab alum and co-founder/CEO of DataVisor, has been selected to receive the 2021 CyLab Distinguished Alumni Award as “one of the pioneers in the space of operationalizing the application of advanced machine learning techniques applied to pressing security problems faced by enterprises across the entire industry landscape.” The award honors CyLab alumni from any CMU department who have had impactful achievements related in the fields of security and/or privacy.

“I am very honored to receive this award,” says Xie. “I thank CMU and CyLab for the experience and for setting the foundation for my love of security topics.”

The award will be presented to Xie at the 2021 CyLab Partners Conference in October.

I thank CMU and CyLab for the experience and for setting the foundation for my love of security topics.

Yinglian Xie, co-founder and CEO, DataVisor

“Yinglian's work in security analytics and fraud management has advanced the state of art both in theory and perhaps more importantly in practice in this domain,” says CyLab's Vyas Sekar, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering who nominated Xie for the Award. “In many ways, her early research at CMU and beyond was well ahead of its time and serves as the intellectual forerunner of today’s flourishing array of products on applying ‘big data’ analytics to security problems.”

Xie was a computer science Ph.D. student at CMU during the birth of CyLab. She began her studies in 1999, co-advised by David O'Halloran and Hui Zhang, and later collaborated closely with CyLab's Mike Reiter who served on her Ph.D. committee. After graduation, Xie worked with Reiter as a postdoctoral researcher from 2005-2006.

Her Ph.D. thesis, “A Spatiotemporal Event Correlation Approach to Computer Security,” explored a new approach to detect abnormal patterns of a wide range of cyberattacks, whose network patterns—when observed individually—may not seem suspicious or distinguishable from normal activity changes.

“My thesis set the theme for all of my work, which is about data-driven approaches to security,” Xie says. “If you put all data together in one place, you can do very powerful things in security.”

If you put all data together in one place, you can do very powerful things in security.

Yinglian Xie, co-founder and CEO, DataVisor

After her time at CMU, Xie worked at Microsoft Research for seven years, continuing to pursue new and innovative ways improve security and privacy using data-driven approaches. At Microsoft, she began to explore machine learning and what's known as parallel computing—the breaking down of larger computational problems into smaller parts that can be executed simultaneously on multiple computer processors.

“We wanted to know, what are the newer things that we couldn't do in the past that we could do now with these newer capabilities?” Xie says.

Then, in 2013, she co-founded DataVisor, a security company that uses the similar research themes and principals that Xie had been pursuing at Microsoft and CMU. DataVisor provides “the world's most sophisticated AI-powered solutions to keep companies and their customers safe from fraud and abuse,” according to the company's website. Protecting over four billion user accounts worldwide, DataVisor enables leading financial institutions, banks and online properties manage fraud and risk at enterprise scale.

“We demonstrated to the industry, and we were the first in the market to handle billions of events and transactions in real time doing unsupervised machine learning to discover new and novel attacks,” Xie says.

Xie says that she wouldn't be where she is today without her experience at CMU.

“CMU encourages not just research but the impact that research could have,” she says. “I really wanted something generating impact to the industry and bridge the gap between research and what is out there for everyone's day to day work.”