UW MSR Summer Institute on Consumer, Cloud Security

Each year, UW Computer Science and Engineering and Microsoft Research host a Summer Research Institute in Computer Science, bringing together dozens of the world’s top researchers for several days to discuss an important emerging topic.

This year’s UW-MSR Summer Research Institute is taking place July 24-27 at Suncadia Resort, located in the Cascades, ninety minutes southeast of Seattle. The topic is “Security and Privacy for a Consumer, Cloud World.” The goal is to identify new directions for consumer and cloud computing, discuss the challenges for protecting security and privacy in a consumer and cloud computing world, and explore directions for mitigating those challenges. The Institute brings together researchers and practitioners from diverse but relevant areas such as computer security, cryptography, mobile systems, cloud computing, systems and networking, and HCI. The organizers are Yoshi Kohno (UW CSE), David Molnar (MSR), and Helen Wang (MSR).

This is the fifteenth UW-MSR Summer Research Institute. Learn more about this year’s UW-MSR Summer Research Institute here.

Helping Design Privacy Preserving Medical Data Registry for Washington State

Alexei Czeskis and Jacob Appelbaum are helping to design a privacy preserving registry for the Washington State medical marijuana data. Their effort was recently mentioned a Seattle Weekly article, available here.

Jake and Alexei have been working directly and indirectly with a variety of stakeholders like the Washington State ACLU, legislators, law enforcement, and Cannabis Defense Coalition to make sure that a technology can be designed to meet the variety of needs and the (sometimes conflicting) goals. Jake’s and Alexei’s work have helped inform the technical language in Senate Bill SB 5073 and more recently — SB 5955.

UW CSE Security Competition Team Wins Nationals!

The UW CSE computer security competition team consisting of Alexei Czeskis (team captain), Karl Koscher (team co-founder), Ian Finder, Mary Pimenova, Cullen Walsh, Baron Oldenburg, Conrad Meyer, and Mark Jordan — coached by Melody Kadenko — just won the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition!

The finals, held April 9 and 10, featured 9 teams from across the nation — the winners of 9 regional competitions.

Congratulations!!!!!

Update (4.11.2011): The Seattle Times just wrote an article about the team’s win.

Update (4.13.2011): UW Today also wrote an article about the team.

Detecting Certificate Authority Compromises and Web Browser Collusion

From Freedom to Tinker: “Today, the public learned of a previously undisclosed compromise of a trusted Certificate Authority — one of the entities that issues certificates attesting to the identity of “secure” web sites. Last week, Comodo quietly issued a command via its certificate revocation servers designed to tell browsers to no longer accept 9 certificates. …

“This implied that the certificates were likely malicious, and may even been used by a third-party to impersonate secure sites. …

“Clearly, something exceptional happened behind the scenes. Security hacker Jacob Appelbaum did some fantastic detective work using the EFF’s SSL Observatory data and discovered that all of the certificates in question originated from Comodo — perhaps from one of the many affiliated companies that issues certificates under Comodo’s authority via their ‘Registration Authority’ (RA) program. Evidently, someone had figured out how to successfully attack Comodo or one of their RAs, or had colluded with them in getting some invalid certs.”

Jacob Appelbaum is a UW Security and Privacy Lab researcher and a Tor developer. You can read more about Jacob’s discoveries here.

UW CSE Security Competition Team Wins Regionals!

The UW CSE cyber defense competition team just won regionals! Congratulations to team members Alexei Czeskis (team captain), Ian Finder, Mark Jordan, Karl Koscher, Conrad Meyer, Baron Oldenburg, Mary Pimenova, and Cullen Walsh!

Update (4.7.2011): The Seattle Times has written an article about the team: “A team of eight University of Washington students will wage war this weekend against an expert force, defending their territory with stealth tactics and on-the-fly invention. But there are no physical weapons involved. There’s not even a physical battleground. For the fourth year in a row, the team will compete in the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, in which teams from around the country attempt to shield a computer system from professional hackers aiming to cause havoc ranging from stealing trade secrets to turning home pages into random YouTube videos.”

Read the full article here.

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