Jacob Strieb is an ingenious teenager. The Huntington High School senior recently won the Intel Excellence in Computer Science Award at the Long Island Science & Engineering Fair and garnered honorable mention recognition in the systems software contest category.
Mr. Strieb engaged in “an automated assessment of the likelihood of downloading malware from the mainline BitTorrent distributed hash table.” The Intel Excellence in Computer Science Award was accompanied by a $200 stipend.
“My project for LISEF was borne out of a personal project I made to assess a distributed file-sharing network typically used for piracy,” Mr. Strieb said. “I sought to sample files on the network and see (based on the sample) how safe downloading from the network is. Doing the project involved writing a lot of custom code to automate indexing and sampling the network as well as running automated virus scans.”
The competition played out at Crest Hollow Country Club. “Every day an increasing number of files are shared over the internet,” states Mr. Strieb’s project abstract. “Alternative methods for uploading and downloading files have been proposed to increase accessibility as well as to decentralize and anonymize their distribution. One such alternative method for file distribution is the BitTorrent network. Used for many legitimate and pirated files alike, files distributed via the BitTorrent network are notorious for being potentially unsafe and containing malware that may cause harm to the downloader’s computer.”
Huntington senior Jacob Strieb.
The senior spent countless hours perfecting his project. “This study assesses the overall safety of the BitTorrent network via the likelihood of downloading malicious software, based on the type of file being downloaded,” according to Mr. Strieb’s project abstract. “By crawling the network via the mainline DHT and subsequently scanning with virus scanners and assessing detection ratios, conclusions regarding overall file safety were reached.”
Mr. Strieb said his research found that “the vast majority of torrents contained no malicious software, with malware being found predominately in files appearing to contain illegally distributed copyrighted software.”
The teenager is also captain of the Huntington Robotics team. He is still mulling over his college choices and expects to make a decision soon.
“At LISEF, I met with a total of seven judges over two rounds of competition and most of them particularly admired the practicality and simplicity of my project, the goal of which was to keep users of distributed file transfer networks safer,” Mr. Strieb said.