Computer science professor and former student win Outstanding Paper Award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – A computer science and engineering professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and his former doctoral student received an Outstanding Paper Award from the fifth annual Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Conference on Data and Application Security (COADASPY) earlier this month. 

The paper, titled “SemaDroid: A Privacy-Aware Sensor Management Framework for Smartphones,” was authored by Sencun Zhu, an associate professor, and Penn State alumnus Zhi Xu, a senior staff research engineer at Security Research at Palo Alto Networks.

According to Xu, the paper is a proposal to develop a privacy-aware sensor management framework for Android.

 “While mobile sensing applications are booming, there are no good sensor management mechanisms to protect user's privacy in current smartphone operating systems,” said Xu. “Unlike sensitive data or files, the onboard sensors on smartphones act like service providers and those installed sensing applications act like service consumers. The quality of sensor data directly affects the private information shared with the consumer apps,” said Xu.

“In our paper, we proposed a privacy-aware sensor management framework, called SemaDroid, which extends the existing sensor management framework on Android to provide comprehensive and QoSn (Quality-of-Sensing) based access control over onboard sensors,” added Xu. “We show that the SemaDroid framework can allow the user to monitor the sensor usage of installed apps and control the disclosure of sensing information while not affecting the app's usability.”

The two hope to introduce an innovative design of QoSn based access policies that will protect users’ private data when participating in mobile sensing activities.

“It felt great to find out our paper received this award. I think the committee realized the importance of the issue we are solving,” said Xu. “Now, more and more mobile sensing apps have been introduced to our lives, such as social networks apps, health care apps and activity monitor apps. We believe our work will be helpful to people who want to use those apps but are also concerned about their privacy. Additionally, it will help to promote more innovative mobile sensing apps if the user's privacy is protected.”

This year's ACM Conference on Data and Application Security and Privacy was held in San Antonio. This conference offers a dedicated venue for high-quality research in the area of security and privacy of applications and systems and seeks to foster a community with this focus in cyber security. As a competitive and well regarded conference in the cyber security community, this year its acceptance rate is 21 percent.



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Last Updated April 01, 2015