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Usable security and privacy for context-aware mobile applications

Researchers: Martin Griss, Anind Dey, Pei Zhang

Research Area: Mobility

Cross Cutting Thrusts: Usable Privacy and Security


The goal of the project is to improve end-users' ability to privately and securely interact with their environment and data while mobile. In order to support mobility and aspects of privacy and security, it is imperative that a user's context can be sensed and understood. In mobile situations, interactions need to be particularly unobtrusive and seamless, as opposed to desktop computing situations where users are explicitly interacting with a computing device. Mobility, as well, introduces additional security challenges for providing services in a way that neither compromises the environment or the users and their data. We propose to apply our experience in developing context-aware mobile systems to issues of security and privacy, and in particular, leverage context-aware information as additional sources of authentication credentials and control access to information and services based on contextual cues.

As users migrate from environment to environment, and particularly as they migrate between environments, they face particular challenges in understanding the differences between environments, discerning what they can and cannot do and what data they will have access to while mobile. It is critical to understand and support end-user issues of security and privacy in periods of user mobility, when they are migrating between environments that they have no control over. A user's context of use (e.g. location, experiences, task, time of day, authority) can all have some impact on these issues. Our proposed research will leverage sensed and inferred context and apply context-awareness to these issue to improve users' experiences while mobile.

Outcomes: One or more papers, and a prototype toolkit of potential interest to companies such as Ericsson, Clearwire and Nokia.