Health-oriented smart devices, such as a blood-glucose monitor, collect meaningful data when they are in use and in physical contact with their user. The smart device’s (“smartThing’s”) wireless connectivity allows it to transfer that data to its user’s trusted device, for example a smartphone. However, an adversary could impersonate the user and bootstrap a communication channel with the smartThing while the smartThing is being used by an oblivious legitimate user.
To address this problem, in this paper, we investigate the use of vibration, generated by a smartRing, as an out-of-band communication channel to unobtrusively share a secret with a smartThing. This exchanged secret can be used to bootstrap a secure wireless channel over which the smartphone (or another trusted device) and the smartThing can communicate. We present the design, implementation, and evaluation of this system, which we call VibeRing. We describe the hardware and software details of the smartThing and smartRing. Through a user study we demonstrate that it is possible to share a secret with various objects quickly, accurately and securely as compared to several existing techniques.
A recent THaW paper was nominated for Best Paper at the IoT conference:
With the rapid growth in the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices with wireless communication capabilities, and sensitive information collection capabilities, it is becoming increasingly necessary to ensure that these devices communicate securely with only authorized devices. A major requirement of this secure communication is to ensure that both the devices share a secret, which can be used for secure pairing and encrypted communication. Manually imparting this secret to these devices becomes an unnecessary overhead, especially when the device interaction is transient. In this work, we empirically investigate the possibility of using an out-of-band communication channel – vibration, generated by a custom smartRing – to share a secret with a compatible IoT device. Through a user study with 12 participants we show that in the best case we can exchange 85.9% messages successfully. Our technique demonstrates the possibility of sharing messages accurately, quickly, and securely as compared to several existing techniques.
To learn more, check out the video presentation here.
Sougata Sen and David Kotz. VibeRing: Using vibrations from a smart ring as an out-of-band channel for sharing secret keys. In Proceedings of the International Conference on the Internet of Things (IoT), page Article#13 (8 pages), October 2020. ACM. DOI: 10.1145/3341162.3343818
A few months ago we announced the results of our Wanda project, as published in INFOCOM 2016. Today we’re excited to share this new video description of the project! Thanks to Abby Starr and Shiyao Peng of Dartmouth’s DALI lab, and Tim Pierson of the THaW team, for this fun and informative production.
Nearly every setting is increasingly populated with wireless and mobile devices – whether appliances in a home, medical devices in a health clinic, sensors in an industrial setting, or devices in an office or school. There are three fundamental operations when bringing a new device into any of these settings: (1) to configure the device to join the wireless local-area network, (2) to partner the device with other nearby devices so they can work together, and (3) to configure the device so it connects to the relevant individual or organizational account in the cloud. The challenge is to accomplish all three goals simply, securely, and consistent with user intent. We call our approach Wanda – a `magic wand’ that accomplishes all three of the above goals – and evaluate a prototype implementation.
The Comptroller General of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) announced the appointment of THaW PI David Kotz to the organization’s Health IT (HIT) Policy Committee. In his announcement, Gene Dodaro noted, “In developing policy for health information technology, it’s important to take into account expertise related to privacy and security and to health care research as well as the views of health care workers who are the users of HIT.”
The Comptroller General is responsible for appointing 13 of the 20 members of the HIT Policy Committee. David will fill the role of expert in privacy and security.