Cyber Security Week: Is your smartphone a traitor?

November 2, 2019 posted by

Your mobile phone is a traitor. Every aspect of our lives we use our phone for whether that’s messaging or travel,
payments, shopping our phone is involved in all of those things and and it
collects data about all of those things and and the reason I say your phone is a
traitor is that your phone integrates and correlates data about all these
different activities of your life and lots of companies that have apps on your
phone have access to that data about you not just to the bit of it that’s
relevant for them but the whole thing because of the way your phone integrates
that data and of course as we know there’s this implicit contract with
those big companies they offer services that cost nothing but that’s
because you pay with your data so that’s the sense in which your phone is
betraying you all the time by offering those companies all of
this data about all aspects of your life so how to solve that conundrum
well there’s it can be solved at lots of levels I mean there’s certainly we need
better laws about that and the European Union of course has has started this
process with the gdpr and we need to have better models better business
models for how we pay for the services that we get all our phones but the work
we’re doing in Birmingham is about developing better mechanisms on your
phone for separating data between different sorts of activities so part of
this is about cryptography using cryptography in ways that will give us
that better separation and using trustworthy hardware as it’s called like
specialized chips in your computer that offer guarantees about how data that
they have access to is processed and then another part of
this work is about developing languages in which you can express privacy
properties so that you can formally prove that these privacy properties hold
of the systems that I mentioned that we’re helping to build and
developing tools that would allow you to reason over privacy properties expressed
in those languages and prove that they hold of the particular
systems at hand so going forward I think that the problem that I’m describing
namely the way in which a lot of data about you is integrated in one place is
going to get a lot worse because AI and data science mean that we’re going to
have a lot more data and a lot more processing of data in intelligent ways
at all levels in the cloud certainly but on your phone as well in fact your phone
you can kind of see as a temporary device the ultimate conclusion the
ultimate device in that direction is to have brain interfaces
brain computer interfaces where you no longer have to kind of explicitly use a
device but you just think things and that through the brain interface you get to access all of the information in the world of course and you get to
make all of those choices and communications and payments and all the
things that we currently do on our phone now when that kind of technology comes
about it will become even more important that we have the right separation
between various activities between the things that we want to be made
accessible to companies that are offering services and the things that we
want to keep private to ourselves. So if you’re interested in these ideas
please comment on this video using the comment button below and also get
involved in initiatives being held at a national level for example the Alan
Turing Institute has a range of programs about this kind of interface between
security and privacy and functionality and big data and there’s lots of
initiatives at the European level as well.

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