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September 14 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm EDT
Title: The Web’s Sixth Sense: How Do Websites Use Smartphone Sensors?
Speaker: Nikita Borisov, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Location: ISEC 655
As mobile browsing has come to dominate the web, browsers have added support for web pages interacting with smartphone sensors that measure things such as device motion or ambient light. This can enable a number of new mobile web applications; at the same time, these sensors create a number of new privacy risks. I will present an overview of these risks, then discuss our study of the mobile web to determine common use cases of smartphone sensor web APIs. One of our key findings is that sensors are commonly used for tracking and bot detection in ways that can impact user privacy. I will also discuss of efficacy of privacy-focused tools and browsers at blocking these uses of sensors, and some steps that browsers can take moving forward to better protect users’ privacy.
About the Speaker
Nikita Borisov is an associate professor of Electrial and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research is interests are online privacy and network security, with recent work on anonymous and metadata-private communication, censorship resistance, and analysis of encrypted traffic. He is the designer of the widely-used Off-the-Record (OTR) secure instant messaging protocol, and was responsible for the first public analysis of 802.11 security. He is the recipient of the NSF CAREER award and several best-paper awards. He has served as the chair of the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium and the ACM Workshop on Privacy in Electronic Society. Prof. Borisov received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2005 and a B.Math from the University of Waterloo in 1998.