CS 7936 — Computer Security & Privacy Seminar, Fall 2017

Wednesdays, 12:00–1:00 PM, MEB 3485/3490 (NE / Flux Conference Room)

Navigation Links: Schedule | Overview | Credit | Tips on Reading Papers | How to Access Papers

Past offerings: Summer 2017 (Unofficial) | Fall 2016 | Spring 2016 | Fall 2015 | Spring 2015

Date Presenter Topic
10/18 Zeeshan
Characterizing Social Insider Attacks on Facebook (Usmani et al)
More info Facebook accounts are secured against unauthorized access
through passwords and device-level security. Those defenses,
however, may not be sufficient to prevent social insider attacks,
where attackers know their victims, and gain access to
a victim?~@~Ys account by interacting directly with their device.
To characterize these attacks, we ran two MTurk studies. In
the first (n = 1,308), using the list experiment method, we
estimated that 24% of participants had perpetrated social insider
attacks and that 21% had been victims (and knew about
it). In the second study (n = 45), participants wrote stories
detailing personal experiences with such attacks. Using thematic
analysis, we typified attacks around five motivations
(fun, curiosity, jealousy, animosity, and utility), and explored
dimensions associated with each type. Our combined findings
indicate that social insider attacks are common, often
have serious emotional consequences, and have no simple
FALL BREAK - No Seminar
More info -------
9/27 Aarushi
Towards Understanding Differential Privacy: When Do People Trust Randomized Response Technique?
More info As a consequence of living in a data ecosystem, we often relinquish personal information to be used in contexts in which we have no control. In this paper, we begin to examine the usability of differential privacy, a mechanism that proposes to promise privacy with a mathematical "proof" to the data donor. Do people trust this promise and adjust their privacy decisions if the interfaces through which they interact make differential privacy less opaque? In a study with 228 participants, we measured comfort, understanding, and trust using a variant of differential privacy known as Randomized Response Technique (RRT). We found that allowing individuals to see the amount of obfuscation applied to their responses increased their trust in the privacy-protecting mechanism. However, participants who associated obfuscating privacy mechanisms with deception did not make the "safest" privacy decisions, even as they demonstrated an understanding of RRT. We demonstrate that prudent privacy-related decisions can be cultivated with simple explanations of usable privacy.
9/20 Nate
Deriving genomic diagnoses without revealing patient genomes (Jagadeesh et al)
More info Patient genomes are interpretable only in the context of other genomes; however, genome sharing enables discrimination. Thousands of monogenic diseases have yielded definitive genomic diagnoses and potential gene therapy targets. Here we show how to provide such diagnoses while preserving participant privacy through the use of secure multiparty computation. In multiple real scenarios (small patient cohorts, trio analysis, two-hospital collaboration), we used our methods to identify the causal variant and discover previously unrecognized disease genes and variants while keeping up to 99.7% of all participants’ most sensitive genomic information private.
Chad Brubaker - Android Platform Hardening
More info Why should I talk to Chad / what should I talk about with Chad?

A. He works in the Android Security group at Google, concentrating on
hardening the OS.

B. nogotofail - a tool that lets you test your network traffic for
TLS/SSL vulnerabilities and misconfigurations via client and/or a VPN

C. "there is also the Android Network Security Config I made for Android N (http://developer.android.com/preview/features/security-config.html), its the tock to the tick-tock of the "find and understand issues"/"kill root cause of issues" that nogotofail started and allows for developers to do all the customization that we saw people trying to do but in a way that's hard to get wrong and safe."

D. Using Frankencerts for Automated Adversarial Testing of Certificate
Validation in SSL/TLS Implementations

Modern network security rests on the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and
Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols. Distributed systems, mobile
and desktop applications, embedded devices, and all of secure Web rely
on SSL/TLS for protection against network attacks. This protection
critically depends on whether SSL/TLS clients correctly validate X.509
certificates presented by servers during the SSL/TLS handshake
protocol. We design, implement, and apply the first methodology for
large-scale testing of certificate validation logic in SSL/TLS
implementations. Our first ingredient is "frankencerts," synthetic
certificates that are randomly mutated from parts of real certificates
and thus include unusual combinations of extensions and constraints.
Our second ingredient is differential testing: if one SSL/TLS
implementation accepts a certificate while another rejects the same
certificate, we use the discrepancy as an oracle for finding flaws in
individual implementations. Differential testing with frankencerts
uncovered 208 discrepancies between popular SSL/TLS implementations
such as OpenSSL, NSS, CyaSSL, GnuTLS, PolarSSL, MatrixSSL, etc. Many
of them are caused by serious security vulnerabilities. For example,
any server with a valid X.509 version1 certificate can act as a rogue
certificate authority and issue fake certificates for any domain,
enabling man-in-the-middle attacks against MatrixSSL and GnuTLS.
Several implementations also accept certificate authorities created by
unauthorized issuers, as well as certificates not intended for server
authentication. We also found serious vulnerabilities in how users are
warned about certificate validation errors. When presented with an
expired, self-signed certificate, NSS, Safari, and Chrome (on Linux)
report that the certificate has expired - a low-risk, often ignored
error - but not that the connection is insecure against a
man-in-the-middle attack. These results demonstrate that automated
adversarial testing with frankencerts is a powerful methodology for
discovering security flaws in SSL/TLS implementations.
9/6 David
An Experimental Security Analysis of an Industrial Robot Controller (Quarta et al)
More info Industrial robots, automated manufacturing, and
efficient logistics processes are at the heart of the upcoming
fourth industrial revolution. While there are seminal studies on
the vulnerabilities of cyber-physical systems in the industry, as
of today there has been no systematic analysis of the security of
industrial robot controllers.

We examine the standard architecture of an industrial robot
and analyze a concrete deployment from a systems security
standpoint. Then, we propose an attacker model and confront
it with the minimal set of requirements that industrial robots
should honor: precision in sensing the environment, correctness
in execution of control logic, and safety for human operators.

Following an experimental and practical approach, we then
show how our modeled attacker can subvert such requirements
through the exploitation of software vulnerabilities, leading to
severe consequences that are unique to the robotics domain.

We conclude by discussing safety standards and security
challenges in industrial robotics.
8/30 Denning
Design and Evaluation of a Data-Driven Password Meter (Ur et al)
More info Abstract:
Despite their ubiquity, many password meters provide inaccurate
strength estimates. Furthermore, they do not explain to users what is
wrong with their password or how to improve it. We describe the
development and evaluation of a data-driven password meter that
provides accurate strength measurement and actionable, detailed
feedback to users. This meter combines neural networks and numerous
carefully combined heuristics to score passwords and generate
data-driven text feedback about the user's password. We describe the
meter's iterative development and final design. We detail the security
and usability impact of the meter's design dimensions, examined
through a 4,509-participant online study. Under the more common
password-composition policy we tested, we found that the data-driven
meter with detailed feedback led users to create more secure, and no
less memorable, passwords than a meter with only a bar as a strength


The Fall 2017 offering of CS 7936 will focus on reading and discussing recent papers in security and privacy research from conferences such as:

Class announcements are sent out on security-privacy@cs.utah.edu. You can subscribe at http://mailman.cs.utah.edu/mailman/listinfo/security-privacy.


Students may enroll for one (1) credit. Although the University lists the course as “variable credit,” the two- and three-credit options are not currently available.

Students enrolled in the seminar are expected to read the papers prior to the seminar. Additionally, students are expected to sign up to lead the discussion on one or more seminar meeting. Leading the disucssion means:

  1. Choosing the paper and sending it to tdenning@cs.utah.edu by 6PM Sunday before the seminar meeting;
  2. Preparing a 7-10 minute summary of the paper and its pertinent points;
  3. Familiarizing yourself enough with the paper to be able to answer questions that may come up;
  4. Preparing potential discussion points if the discussion needs prompting.

Tips on Reading Papers

Some tips that might help on reading, understanding, and analyzing papers:

How to Access Papers

Some papers are free to access, while others are behind paywalls. The university has a paid subscription to most of the libraries where those papers can be found. There are several ways to access those papers: