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The 2nd European Workshop on Usable Security (EuroUSEC) will be an affiliated workshop at the 2nd IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy (EuroS&P) on April 29, 2017 in Paris at UPMC Campus Jussieu.

EuroUSEC is soliciting “previously unpublished work offering novel research contributions in any aspect of human factors in security and privacy for end-users and IT professionals,” including but not limited to:

  • innovative security or privacy functionality and design
  • new applications of existing models or technology
  • field studies of security or privacy technology
  • usability evaluations of new or existing security or privacy features
  • security testing of new or existing usability features
  • longitudinal studies of deployed security or privacy features
  • studies of administrators or developers and support for security and privacy
  • psychological, sociological and economic aspects of security and privacy
  • the impact of organizational policy or procurement decisions
  • methodology for usable security and privacy research
  • lessons learned from the deployment and use of usable privacy and security features
  • reports of replicating previously published studies and experiments
  • reports of failed usable privacy/security studies or experiments, with focus on the lessons learned

The submission deadline is March 17, 2017 and full instructions are published on the event homepage.

All affiliated workshops are listed on the EuroS&P 2017 homepage.

Academics Conference HCI Privacy by Design Privacy Impact Assessment Security

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Challenge.gov, the official organizer of US federal tech/science competitions, has unveiled the Privacy Policy Snapshot Challenge with a top prize of $20,000 (runners-up: $10k and $5k).

Submissions are being accepted until April 10, 2017.

In their own words, they

call for designers, developers, and health data privacy experts to create an online Model Privacy Notice (MPN) generator. The MPN is a voluntary, openly available resource designed to help health technology developers who collect digital health data clearly convey information about their privacy and security policies to their users. Similar to a nutrition facts label, the MPN provides a snapshot of a product’s existing privacy practices, encouraging transparency and helping consumers make informed choices when selecting products. The MPN does not mandate specific policies or substitute for more comprehensive or detailed privacy policies.

An effective MPN would have to simplify nuanced information about multiple stakeholders’ complex data collection, retention, sharing and usage practices. It must also prioritize the importance of a variety of objective facts about devices, their documentation and methods of consent acquirement. Crucially, it should foresee ways in which manufacturers might attempt to game the evaluation system, and mitigate those possibilities.

Though this challenge only considers technology collecting health data, it will be instructive for similar initiatives in many other IoT fields. It’s a useful step in supporting the right of consumers to have transparent information about diverse privacy and security practices.

Full conditions and requirements can be found on the contest homepage.

Data Protection Health Privacy Policies Security Transparency User Control Wearables

Day 2 of CES comes to a close, and two trends from Day 1 remain: I saw more robots that do face recognition, and I remain underwhelmed. Today, I walked the cartoonishly huge Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), which was dedicated to automotive technology, more robots, more health tech, displays, and accessories. The LVCC is different from the Sands, which I walked on Day 1, in that it’s full of big, established manufacturers: Panasonic, LG, Samsung, Mercedes, Jaguar, Qualcomm, Volkswagen, and so on. The Sands had smaller companies, startups, and university-supported products. After two full days of walking the convention, the technology that made the strongest showing was:

  • Virtual Reality
  • Drones
  • Robots
  • Camera products
  • Automotive (inside the cockpit)

Honorable mention goes to gesture control. I was surprised by the poor showing of health-oriented products. There were plenty of fitness products, but these were the ho-hum Fitbit-like wearables we’ve seen for some time now. I’m not a gamer, but I was quite impressed with the immersive VR tech I played with.

At the intersection of health and automotive was Mercedes. They put sensors in the steering wheel of one of their cars to detect heart rate. If the car determined that you were stressed, it could alter the interior conditions: lighting, music, and – I kid you not – aroma. The glove box contains a scent cartridge that it would introduce into the airflow system to aromatherapy you back to your happy place. Mercedes took the idea that ‘technology companies are really lifestyle companies’ a bit too far – the car offers you suggestions on how to live a fitter, healthier existence based on what it detects and knows about you. Being alone in a car can be a place of respite… I sure as heck don’t want to be nagged about my sloth while I’m driving an expensive car to In-N-Out Burger.

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Day 2 was replete with robots. LG seems to want to bring WALL-E to life with its airport information robot, lawn mower robot, and household ‘Hub robot.’ Robots from less well-known manufacturers were also in full force, and as I mentioned in yesterday’s wrap-up, face recognition appears to be de rigueur. Wavebot, which looks like something you squeeze to plop out cookie dough or raw falafels, was being marketed as a butler/watchdog that continually roams your house. Both it and other robots on display were not working because of the usual convention WiFi failures, so I didn’t really get a sense of their value… or likelihood of killing me and my family because the face recognition broke. My big takeaway was: The Age of Household Robots is nowhere near.

However… virtual assistant technology seems to be galloping at a rapid clip. I saw several integrations of Alexa into non-cyclindrical devices. Volkswagen introduced it into their cars, LG put it in a fridge, and a small robot named Lynx allows Alexa to bumble around your house and wave at you. Toyota built its own chirpy virtual ‘companion’ named Yui that merges the virtual assistant with self-driving. Unsurprisingly, this was merely a concept demo. Sidebar: all of these virtual assistants are so nice. I’m from New York originally – will someone please build me an Alexa/Siri mod that makes it cranky and profane? “Siri, what’s the temperature?” “Stick yer friggin’ head out the window and check yourself, ya schmuck.” “Thanks, Siri… you feel like family.”

Qualcomm showed off a super tiny camera and sensor, which seemed ideal for integration into… well… anything. The person I spoke to mentioned toys, and after December’s ugly story about wildly insecure IoT toys that can be used to spy on children, this development made me more concerned than excited.

Ultimately, I found Day 2 less satisfying than Day 1, in large part because the big manufacturers are trotting out incremental product advancements, rather than the risker, more interesting technology that smaller companies are launching. On the whole, CES failed to excite me; I am aware that writing that puts me at odds with lots of other analysts who want to tell you how amazing everything is. Still, a few things inspired me, a few surprised me, and some products just seemed stupid.

With regard to privacy, this was a Consumer Electronics Show, and so the products were mainly ones that we would bring into close contact with our lives – on our person, in our cars, and in our homes. So, for me, the privacy issues raised are:

  • Encroachment on intimacy: household robots, toys and other near at hand objects with cameras and other sensors means increased collection of intimate moments and activities.
  • Further disappearance of surveillance technology: smaller cameras means less awareness of being monitored and recorded.
  • Normalization of child surveillance: cameras in the home and toys means much more collection of children’s behavior and interactions.
  • Expansion of stakeholders: decreasing costs to include cameras, microphones and other monitoring devices means it’s easier for new entrants into technology markets to introduce monitoring features. Will those new entrants know how to handle intimate personal data respectfully?

I expand on these concerns in my report, Privacy and the Internet of Things, which you can download for free from O’Reilly. And, while CES didn’t impress very much, I at least did not see things that filled me with terror. I did find a bust of Siegfried & Roy, which made the whole trip worthwhile.

Conference Connected Cars Data Ownership Drones Intimacy Security Smart Home Toys User Control Wearables

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Today was the first official day of 2017’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and I walked the show floor to see this year’s upcoming products and meditate on their privacy implications. I’m a nerd and geek at my core, and this was my first time at CES, so I was excited.

The first stop was a small section dedicated to technology for mothers and babies. The very limited number of companies was surprising to me, but one vendor told me this was because a) CES had only begun this topic area last year, and b) there were already well-established mother/baby technology shows elsewhere, and CES was seen to be both expensive and lacking in a critical mass of interested clientele. The first company I encountered was Mamava, who made privacy booths for mothers to express breast milk. Mainly, as a technology, this was about physical privacy rather4 than informational privacy, though there were some IoT-like features in the form of mobile phone-based unlocking and awareness of who was inside the booth. Next was a company called Bloomlife, who made what they claimed was the first IoT contraction sensor for consumer use. My presumption is that until the data they collect is shared with a HIPAA-covered entity, they would not be subject to HIPAA themselves, which is yet another glaring problem with sectoral privacy legislation. The mother/baby area was paired with beauty products, and aside from impressive wearable, self-contained breast pumps and questionable laser hair regrowth solutions, there wasn’t much interesting.

Next was the main show floor of the Sands Hotel, which was dedicated to health, sports, wearables, robots, and 3D printing, and a special area for startups, university-led products, and those that received government funding. 3Honestly, not much blew me away; my inner geek was not very satisfied. From a privacy perspective, I took note of the proliferation of cameras, which is a long established trend. I encountered a British company called Lyte who made sports sunglasses with an embedded HD camera. I noted that they did not have an external light indicating that they were recording, which would be a more privacy-positive feature, supporting the principle of transparency (e.g., notification). The CEO, whom I interviewed, said that this was because their key market was sports enthusiasts, and the glasses would be used in a sports context rather than just for looking cool in public. He said that as they look towards a more general user base, they would consider such things as an indicator light. I saw a number of robots with cameras in their heads, sometimes with face recognition capabilities, which of course makes me wonder about their data collection practices, i.e., who gets that face data, and is children’s data treated with greater care.

I’m quite interested in smart jewelry, in large part because great design is quite difficult. So often, technology just looks like… more technology, so I’m always pleased to see creative, artistic IoT products. One caught my eye today: the Leaf, by Bellabeat, which is an activity, sleep, stress, and menstrual cycle tracker. One of the touted features of the IoT is its unobtrusiveness, and the Leaf certainly makes its technology disappear.

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The product that stood out the most for me today was not about data collection, networking, or connecting the physical world to the virtual one. It’s called the Gyenno Spoon, and it does one thing: it helps people with Parkinson’s and other tremors to use a spoon. That’s it. The video below illustrates how profoundly difficult it is to eat for people who suffer from tremors, and shows how an advancement like the Gyenno Spoon can improve well-being and dignity. I’ve been working in technology for over 20 years, and few things have moved me as much as this.

Finally, I chatted with a body camera 8manufacturer who was moving from supplying law enforcement to selling his product to other professionals. In my interview with the founder, he told me how lawyers, doctors, and tow truck drivers wanted a device to record their interactions so as to have evidence of their activities and to prevent harassment. Again, the theme of camera proliferation appeared, and I can’t help but wonder about the continuing normalization of citizens video surveilling each other. I suppose it’s time to read more about surveillance studies. At least the Venture body camera has a recording indicator light.

Tomorrow, the main show floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center! Now, I’m off to find a buffet.

Conference Data Protection Intimacy Law Transparency Wearables

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Hello from CES 2017! I’ll be blogging and tweeting from the show floor of the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas about the latest IoT technology and their privacy and security implications. Follow me on @GiladRosner and @IoTPrivacyForum for updates.

– Gilad

Conference

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is offering $25,000 (and runner-up prizes) for a “technical solution” that would protect consumers from the security risks of running out-of-date software on IoT devices in their homes.

Demonstrating growing concern about the security/privacy vulnerabilities of billions of connected devices, the FTC is hoping that the winning efforts will benefit the entire IoT spectrum, which goes far beyond the range of connected appliances, meters, screens, toys and gadgets expected to live in the residential home of the future.

The FTC’s press release states:

An ideal tool might be a physical device that the consumer can add to his or her home network that would check and install updates for other IoT devices on that home network, or it might be an app or cloud-based service, or a dashboard or other user interface. Contestants also have the option of adding features such as those that would address hard-coded, factory default or easy-to-guess passwords.

Such solutions could be scalable to entire workplaces, offering widespread protection against security threats.

Contest submissions will be accepted from March 1st until midday May 22, 2017. See the challenge homepage for further details.

The IoT Privacy Forum encourages more of such government contests addressing privacy and security concerns in the IoT. Since privacy is more often a cost center rather than a revenue source, money and attention from government actors is a great way to stimulate markets and technology.

Data Protection Policy Privacy by Design Security Smart Home

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Researchers at American University and the Center for Digital Democracy have today released a report on wearable eHealth devices, which represent a rapidly-growing IoT sector.

Titled Health Wearable Devices in the Big Data Era: Ensuring Privacy, Security & Consumer Protection (download PDF here), the 122 pages cover privacy and security threats, the Big Data marketplace, predictive/targeting methods, the legal and regulatory environment, and an extensive section on promoting ethical data practices. The intro to the report states:

The report documents a number of current digital health marketing practices that threaten the privacy of consumer health information, including condition targeting, look-alike modeling, predictive analytics, scoring, and the real-time buying and selling of individual consumers.

The potential range of intensely personal data obtainable from wearable (not to mention implantable) devices is what makes them such a potent marketing tool:

An emerging set of techniques will be designed to harness the unique capabilities of wearables—such as biosensors that track bodily functions, and “haptic technology” that enables users to “feel” actual body sensations. Pharmaceutical companies are poised to be among the major beneficiaries of wearable marketing. (p.4)

Recognizing the cost-saving and preventative benefits of eHealth devices, the report calls urgently for “meaningful, effective and enforceable safeguards” at the foundations of the connected-health system. Regulation in the U.S. is currently “weak and fragmented,” it notes, and is totally unprepared for sophisticated technologies capable of “unprecedented” data collection.

Data Ownership Data Protection Intimacy Law Policy Privacy by Design Wearables

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A former Uber employee is suing the company for whistleblower retaliation, exposing a startling set of claims about data privacy practices within the San Francisco-based corporation. At 45, Ward Spangenberg is a seasoned infosec expert who reportedly discovered extremely lax policy in data protection, retention and security — and how near-universal internal access to detailed personal information is compromising all Uber riders.

First up in Spangenburg’s declaration is that “payroll information for all Uber employees was contained in an unsecured Google spreadsheet”.

He says that Uber collects “a myriad of data” about its customers, including names, emails, social security numbers, locations, device types, and “other data that the user may or may not know they were even providing to Uber by requesting a ride”. Furthermore,

Uber’s lack of security regarding its customer data was resulting in Uber employees being able to track high-profile politicians, celebrities and even personal acquaintances of Uber employees, including ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, and ex-spouses. I also reported that […] allowing all employees to access this information (as opposed to a small security team) was resulting in a violation of governmental regulations regarding data protection and consumer privacy rights.

Such a wealth of personal information, available to all “without regard to any particular employment or security clearance” would make a mockery of Uber’s Vulnerability Management Policy, which “specifically stated, in writing” that:

the policy could not be followed if Uber deemed there was a “legitimate business purpose” for not doing so, or if a Director level employee or above permitted such an exception.

Finally, Uber “routinely deleted files which were subject to litigation holds,” while its Incident Response Team

would be called when governmental agencies raided Uber’s offices due to concerns regarding noncompliance with governmental regulations. In those instances, Uber would lock down the office and immediately cut all connectivity so that law enforcement could not access Uber’s information. I would then be tasked with purchasing all new equipment for the office within the day, which I did when Uber’s Montreal office was raided.

Spangenburg was reportedly “also a point person when foreign government agencies raided company offices abroad,” remotely encrypting office computers from Uber’s San Francisco HQ.

“My job was to just make sure that any time a laptop was seized, the protocol locked the laptops up,” he said.

You can read Will Evans‘s excellent article on the story here. Ward Spangenberg’s full declaration can be read here.

Connected Cars Data Protection Privacy by Design Realpolitik Security

Privacy and consumer watchdog groups have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission about toys that are insecure enough to be used to spy on children easily. The targets of the complaint are Genesis Toys, the maker of My Friend Cayla and i-Que, and Nuance Communications, a third-party provider of voice recognition technology who also supplies products to law enforcement and the intelligence community. 

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the Center for Digital Democracy, the Consumers Union and others have jointly filed the complaint, which boldly states in the introduction:

This complaint concerns toys that spy. By purpose and design, these toys record and collect the private conversations of young children without any limitations on collection, use, or disclosure of this personal information. The toys subject young children to ongoing surveillance and are deployed in homes across the United States without any meaningful data protection standards. They pose an imminent and immediate threat to the safety and security of children in the United States.

The complaint requests that the FTC investigate Genesis Toys for several problematic issues, ranging from easy unauthorized Bluetooth connections to the toys within a 50-foot range, to the difficulty of locating the Terms of Service. Many findings appear to violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and FTC rules prohibiting unfair and deceptive practices. These include collection of data from children younger than 13, vague descriptions of voice collection practices in the Privacy Policies, and contradictory/misleading information regarding third-party access to voice recordings.
 
Cayla’s companion app invites children to input their physical location, as well as their names, parents’ names, school, and their favorite TV shows, meals and toys. The complaint highlights that it’s unclear how long the manufacturer will hold this data, and if they will ever delete it even if requested:
The Privacy Policies for Cayla and i-Que state that Genesis does not retain personal information for “longer than is necessary.” The scope of what is “necessary” is undefined. Genesis permits users to request deletion of personal information the company holds about them, but advises users that “we may need to keep that information for legitimate business or legal purposes.”
Disturbingly, the complaint notes that each of the toys can be heavily compromised by two unauthorized phones working in tandem:
Researchers discovered that by connecting one phone to the doll through the insecure Bluetooth connection and calling that phone with a second phone, they were able to both converse with and covertly listen to conversations collected through the My Friend Cayla and i-Que toys.
BEUC, a European consumer organisation, have today joined the effort against the manufacturers by complaining to the European Commission, the EU network of national data protection authorities, and the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network.

It should be noted that Danelle Dobbins, then a Master’s student at Washington University in St. Louis, wrote about Cayla’s glaring security problems in a 2015 paper. Dobbins draws attention to the work of Ken Munro, a security specialist who hacked Cayla at the beginning of 2015 as seen in the below video (via the BBC).

The complaint further notes that children are being surreptitiously marketed to:

Researchers discovered that My Friend Cayla is pre-programmed with dozens of phrases that reference Disneyworld and Disney movies. For example, Cayla tells children that her favorite movie is Disney’s The Little Mermaid and her favorite song is “Let it Go,” from Disney’s Frozen. Cayla also tells children she loves going to Disneyland and wants to go to Epcot in Disneyworld.

This product placement is not disclosed and is difficult for young children to recognize as advertising. Studies show that children have a significantly harder time identifying advertising when it’s not clearly distinguished from programming.

The toys’ voice recognition feature comes from Nuance, who also offers products and services to law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The most disturbing element of the complaint is the suggestion that children’s personal data and interactions could end up being used in the development of Nuance’s intelligence and law enforcement products:

Nuance uses the voice and text information it collects to “develop, tune, enhance, and improve Nuance services and products.”… Nuance’s products and services include voice biometric solutions sold to military, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies…. The use of children’s voice and text information to enhance products and services sold to military, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies creates a substantial risk of harm because children may be unfairly targeted by these organizations if their voices are inaccurately matched to recordings obtained by these organizations.

This could be one of those moments that causes a policy reaction. While negative press may have an impact on the individual companies and their sectors, the only methods that can truly help prevent more of these kinds of unsafe products is regulation and the threat of lawsuit. Let’s hope that policymakers and regulators use this opportunity to scare other toy makers, demonstrate the power of sanction, punish the bad actors, and increase the potency of data security and children’s safety regulation.

Coalitions & Consortia Data Protection Intimacy Law Privacy by Design Security Toys

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Professor Katherine Isbister at the University of California Santa Cruz’s Computational Media department is looking for new graduate students (Masters and Ph.D.) to join her group for Fall 2017.

Interested students should apply to the program using the university’s website (see below) and also send an email to [email protected] to indicate interest. Helpful information when sending an email of interest includes:

-a description of research interests and skillset(s) related to developing and studying tangibles and wearables for play
-a curriculum vitae
-a copy of your unofficial transcript

Social Emotional Technology Lab
The mission of the newly founded Social Emotional Technology Lab at UC Santa Cruz is building and studying human computer interaction technologies that enhance social and emotional experience. Our work takes place at the intersection of games and HCI research and practice. A partial list of projects can be found here: http://www.katherineinterface.com/page3/page3.html

Focal Projects
New graduate researchers are particularly sought to take part in research and development of a) playful tangible technology for self regulation (‘Fidget Widgets’) and b) wearables to support collocated play. Recent publications from both projects are available upon request.

Relevant Skillsets
Programming and hardware prototyping
Experience designing and implementing games and playful systems
User research

Computational Media at UC Santa Cruz
Computational Media is all around us — video games, social media, interactive narrative, smartphone apps, computer-generated films, personalized health coaching, and more. To create these kinds of media, to deeply understand them, to push them forward in novel directions, requires a new kind of interdisciplinary thinker and maker. The new graduate degrees in Computational Media at UC Santa Cruz are designed with this person in mind.

Application Process
Applications for the new programs opened October 1st and close January 3rd. The GRE general test is required. For more information, please visit:

Academics HCI