David Kotz is the Pat and John Rosenwald Professor in the Department of Computer Science and, presently, Visiting Professor in the Center for Digital Health Interventions at ETH Zurich. He previously served as Interim Provost, as Associate Dean of the Faculty for the Sciences, as the Executive Director of the Institute for Security Technology Studies, and on the US Healthcare IT Policy Committee. His research interests include security and privacy, pervasive computing for healthcare, and wireless networks. He has published over 200 refereed papers, obtained over $80m in grant funding, and mentored nearly 100 research students. He is a Fellow of the IEEE, a Distinguished Member of the ACM, a 2008 Fulbright Fellow to India, and an elected member of Phi Beta Kappa.
After receiving his AB in Computer Science and Physics from Dartmouth in 1986, he completed his PhD in Computer Science from Duke University in 1991 and returned to Dartmouth to join the faculty.
THaW graduate Tim Pierson will present SNAP, a method for proximity detection with single-antenna IoT devices at MobiCom in October.
Abstract: Providing secure communications between wireless devices that encounter each other on an ad-hoc basis is a challenge that has not yet been fully addressed. In these cases, close physical proximity among devices that have never shared a secret key is sometimes used as a basis of trust; devices in close proximity are deemed trustworthy while more distant devices are viewed as potential adversaries. Because radio waves are invisible, however, a user may believe a wireless device is communicating with a nearby device when in fact the user’s device is communicating with a distant adversary. Researchers have previously proposed methods for multi-antenna devices to ascertain physical proximity with other devices, but devices with a single antenna, such as those commonly used in the Internet of Things, cannot take advantage of these techniques.
We present theoretical and practical evaluation of a method called SNAP — SiNgle Antenna Proximity — that allows a single-antenna Wi-Fi device to quickly determine proximity with another Wi-Fi device. Our proximity detection technique leverages the repeating nature Wi-Fi’s preamble and the behavior of a signal in a transmitting antenna’s near-field region to detect proximity with high probability; SNAP never falsely declares proximity at ranges longer than 14 cm.
In Proceedings of the ACM International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking (MobiCom), Article #1-15, October 2019. ACM Press. DOI 10.1145/3300061.3300120.
The THaW team is pleased to welcome Prof. Michel Reece, of Morgan State University, as a new collaborator in research on security and privacy issues medical devices. Together with Tim Pierson (Dartmouth) and David Kotz (Dartmouth), Michel and her group will investigate the potential for identifying devices through features sensed at the PHY and MAC layers, and validating the authenticity of such devices.
Dr. Michel A. Reece currently serves as the interim Chairperson and the director of the laboratory for Advanced RF/Microwave Measurement and Electronic Design (ARMMED) in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Morgan State University (MSU). Her research interests include wireless signal characterization and device authentication of IoT devices, high frequency device characterization and modeling for III-V semiconductors, RF/ MMIC circuit design, adaptable electronic components for software defined radio applications and most recently power amplifier development for THz mobile communication applications. She received her B.S from Morgan State in 1995 and her M.S.E.E. from Penn State in 1997, both in Electrical Engineering. She became the first female recipient at MSU to obtain her doctorate degree in Engineering in 2003. Previously, she served as a post- doctoral researcher of the Microwave Systems Section of the RF Engineering Group at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Space Department. She has a passion for education where she has developed curriculum for the RF Microwave Engineering concentration offered at MSU, one out of a few HBCUs to have a dedicated program in this area. She has also taught as an adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins University Engineering Professionals Program.
THaW researchers recently presented a new paper at the Workshop on Decentralized IoT Systems and Security (DISS). [PDF]
Abstract: Medical Body Area Networks (MBAN) are created when Wireless Sensor Nodes (WSN) are either embedded into the patient’s body or strapped onto it. MBANs are used to monitor the health of patients in real-time in their homes. Many cyber protection mechanisms exist for the infrastructure that interfaces with MBANs; however, not many effective cyber security mechanisms exist for MBANs. We introduce a low-overhead security mechanism for MBANs based on having nodes infer anomalous power dissipation in their neighbors to detect compromised nodes. Nodes will infer anomalous power dissipation in their neighbors by detecting a change in their packet send rate. After two consecutive violations, the node will “Tattle” on its neighbor to the gateway, which will alert the Telemedicine administrator and notify all other nodes to ignore the compromised node.
This one-hour talk by David Kotz was presented at ARM Research in Austin, TX at the end of January 2019. The first half covers some recent THaW research about Wanda and SNAP and the second half lays out some security challenges in the Internet of Things. Watch the video below.
Abstract: The homes, offices, and vehicles of tomorrow will be embedded with numerous “Smart Things,” networked with each other and with the Internet. Many of these Things interact with their environment, with other devices, and with human users – and yet most of their communications occur invisibly via wireless networks.How can users express their intent about which devices should communicate – especially in situations when those devices have never encountered each other before? We present our work exploring novel combinations of physical proximity and user interaction to ensure user intent in establishing and securing device interactions.
What happens when an occupant moves out or transfers ownership of her Smart Environment?How does an occupant identify and decommission all the Things in an environment before she moves out?How does a new occupant discover, identify, validate, and configure all the Things in the environment he adopts?When a person moves from smart home to smart office to smart hotel, how is a new environment vetted for safety and security, how are personal settings migrated, and how are they securely deleted on departure?When the original vendor of a Thing (or the service behind it) disappears, how can that Thing (and its data, and its configuration) be transferred to a new service provider?What interface can enable lay people to manage these complex challenges, and be assured of their privacy, security, and safety? We present a list of key research questions to address these important challenges.
Juhee Kwon and Eric Johnson recently published an article aimed at the question Does “meaningful-use” attestation improve information security performance?
Certification mechanisms are often employed to assess and signal difficult-to-observe management practices and foster improvement. In the U.S. healthcare sector, a certification mechanism called meaningful-use attestation was recently adopted as part of an effort to encourage electronic health record (EHR) adoption while also focusing healthcare providers on protecting sensitive healthcare data. This new regime motivated us to examine how meaningful-use attestation influences the occurrence of data breaches. Using a propensity score matching technique combined with a difference-in-differences (DID) approach, our study shows that the impact of meaningful-use attestation is contingent on the nature of data breaches and the time frame. Hospitals that attest to having reached Stage 1 meaningful-use standards observe fewer external breaches in the short term, but do not see continued improvement in the following year. On the other hand, attesting hospitals observe short-term increases in accidental internal breaches but eventually see long-term reductions. We do not find any link between malicious internal breaches and attestation. Our findings offer theoretical and practical insights into the effective design of certification mechanisms.
THaW’s A.J. Burns and Eric Johnson recently published a piece in IT Professional:
ABSTRACT: Cyberthreats create unique risks for organizations and individuals, especially regarding breaches of personally identifiable information (PII). However, relatively little research has examined hackings distinct impact on privacy. The authors analyze cyber breaches of PII and found that they are significantly larger compared to other breaches, showing that past breaches are useful for predicting future breaches.
Scott Breece, VP and CISO of Community Health Systems, discusses the rising security threat in healthcare with M. Eric Johnson, Dean of Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management. Scott highlights how health IT is transforming healthcare, improving the patient experience and outcomes. However, digitization of healthcare data also creates new risks for the healthcare system. Scott discusses how Community Health Systems is staying ahead of those threats and securing patient data. This video was partially supported by the THaW project, which is co-led by Eric Johnson.
Tim Pierson’s dissertation work resulted in an innovative method for single-antenna Wi-Fi devices (like many mHealth devices, medical devices, or those in the IoT) to determine with strong confidence whether a Wi-Fi transmitter is close by (within a few centimeters). This proximity detector can be the basis for trustworthy relationships between devices. A poster paper about this idea just won the best-poster award at MobiCom 2018, and the full paper was just accepted for presentation at MobiCom 2019. See below for the abstract, or check out the corresponding three-page paper.
Authentication has become an integral part of computer usage, but it still remains an interruptive step in people’s workflow. To authenticate to a computer, depending on the authentication method, users must exert mental effort (e.g., recall their password) and/or physical effort (e.g., type their password). These factors increase the cost of context switch for users – cost of switching attention from a primary task to the authentication step and back to the task – disrupting users’ workflow. Clinical staff have often told us they are frustrated by the need to repeatedly log into their clinical desktop computers – sometimes hundreds of times in a day.
In this paper, presented by David Kotz at Ubicomp’18 in Singapore, we propose Seamless Authentication using Wristbands (SAW). SAW is an authentication method designed to address this shortcoming of proximity-based authentication methods, and we do so by adding a quick low-effort user input step that explicitly captures user intentionality for authentication. In SAW, the user’s wristband (e.g., fitness tracker, smartwatch) acts as the user’s authentication token. Read more below, and in the paper.
THaW welcomes Professor Kevin Kornegayand his students from Morgan State University in Baltimore MD. Kevin’s lab brings deep expertise in Medical IoT device security assessment, profiling, and hardening to an exploration of voice-based assistants.
Voice-assisted IoT devices such as Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant are gaining use as portals for medical services. However, the potential safety and security issues they pose are not well understood by patients and consumers. In this collaboration, we will investigate some of the potential security issues of these devices using reverse engineering techniques to expose the vulnerabilities and propose recommendations for secure usage.