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UAB will showcase new way to secure mobile devices at DHS conference

  • December 17, 2014
Computer and Information Sciences researchers introduce a secure framework for protecting users while employing apps accessing location information.
Written by: Katherine Shonesy
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hassanUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham researchers, led by Ragib Hasan, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences will demonstrate their technology for secure location provenance for mobile devices at the 2014 Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Showcase in Washington, D.C., this week.

This project was funded by a $583,000 grant from DHS to Hasan and his team in the UAB Secure and Trustworthy Computing Lab, or SECRETLab. The project resulted in several conference and journal publications, plus the creation of software libraries and applications for mobile phones and the Google Glass and Google Watch wearable platforms.

Location-reporting services permit mobile devices to access various services based on the physical location of the users. Path-critical applications, such as supply-chain verification, require secure location proofs and secure chronological ordering of the proofs. It can be a significant challenge for users to prove their presence and the path of travel in a privacy-protected and secure manner.

Hasan’s team at SECRETLab is introducing WORAL, a secure, collusion-resistant, asserted and verifiable decentralized framework for location provenance. WORAL is a complete, ready-to-deploy framework for generating witness-oriented, asserted and privacy-protected location provenance records. An externally authorized auditor can later verify the proofs and their order. WORAL has been developed for use in low-resource devices. The framework features an Android mobile app to request location proofs and manage the provenance records. The app allows profile management and automatically syncs the settings with the server. Users can easily export proofs with personal privacy settings.

The UAB researchers also provided a Google Glass and Google Watch extension for WORAL users. The users, location authorities and auditors also are provided with an easy-to-use and fully featured Web-based interface for account management.

The developed technology will be demonstrated to the public during the DHS showcase this week.

Hasan is also affiliated with the Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensic Research.