In the Media

Securing Smart Machines – Director Kohno’s Panel at RSA

Using recent examples, panelists will examine the security challenges companies face when adding connectivity to everyday consumer devices. What risks should manufacturers consider in designing and maintaining their products? How can companies keep users apprised of risks and threats? What best practices should companies adopt to improve product security and consumer awareness? – See more

Security the Scariest Part About the Internet of Things – Director Kohno quoted by Washington Post

“Very often we see sectors of the broader industry that are not computer  science experts starting to integrate computers into their systems and then start to integrate networks into those systems,” said Kohno. “Because they don’t have experience being attacked by real attackers, like Microsoft and so on, their level of security awareness … appears to be dated.”

Read the full article here.

When Apps Attack – Director Calo contributes to Forbes.com

(photo credit Johan Larsson)

My colleague Yoshi told me an interesting story the other day.  He looked down at his smart phone to find a large spider running across it.  Understandably, my colleague dropped the phone in surprise.  The screen on the phone cracked when it hit the floor.

It turns out there was no spider.  Yoshi had been using an app to count calories.  The app makes money by displaying the occasional ad.  This particular ad, for pest control services, consisted of an elaborate spider animation.

. . .

Now take our spider ad.  The ad’s designers scared my colleague on purpose in order to sell him pest control services.  He predictably dropped and broke his phone.  Other academics and practitioners may disagree, but I think what we have here is a case of digital assault.

It will not be long before apps can do much more than just scare people.  There’s already an app store for robots (which I help advise) and a 3D printer that costs $499.  The wizards at MIT Media Lab recently developed an interface that permits the user to reach out and touch distant objects.  But the line between the physical and the digital was perhaps never all that bright in the first place.

The Seattle Times Covers Our Launch

A new piece by Briar Dudley on the Seattle Times discusses creation of the Tech Policy Lab.

“A new think tank addressing tech policy issues such as privacy, security and censorship is being launched today at the University of Washington.

Called the Tech Policy Lab, it’s an interdisciplinary program involving the UW’s School of Law, Information School and Computer Science & Engineering Department.”

What Does It Really Matter If Companies Are Tracking Us Online? (The Atlantic)

The Atlantic explores the erosion of online privacy through the lens of Ryan Calo’s “Digital Market Manipulation”:

A new paper by professor Ryan Calo at the University of Washington goes the furthest I have seen in elucidating the potential harms of digital-ad targeting. And his argument basically boils down to this: This isn’t about the sanctity of the individual or even, strictly speaking, about privacy. This is about protecting consumers from profit-seeking corporations, who are gaining an insurmountable edge in their efforts to get people to part with their money.