News Archive

October 2021 – Another publication on our privacy testbed!

Further to our presentation at SECPRE 2021, as detailed below, the REPHRAIN Testbed team have published another paper on their work on one of our central projects.

Building a Privacy Testbed: Use Cases and Design Considerations

Prepared by Joseph Gardiner, Partha Das Chowdhury, Jacob Halsey, Mohammad Tahaei, Tariq Elahi and Awais Rashid.

Abstract: Mobile application (app) developers are often ill-equipped to understand the privacy implications of their products and services, especially with the common practice of using third-party libraries to provide critical functionality. To add to the complexity, most mobile applications interact with the “cloud”—not only the platform provider’s ecosystem (such as Apple or Google) but also with third-party servers (as a consequence of library use). This presents a hazy view of the privacy impact for a particular app. Therefore, we take a significant step to address this challenge and propose a testbed with the ability to systematically evaluate and understand the privacy behavior of client server applications in a network environment across a large number of hosts. We reflect on our experiences of successfully deploying two mass market applications on the initial versions of our proposed testbed. Standardization across cloud implementations and exposed end points of closed source binaries are key for transparent evaluation of privacy features.

Paper available for download here.

October 2021 – Presentation to the Dutch Senate!

Congratulations to one of our Practitioners-in-Residence, Erik van de Sandt, who presented his publication Towards Data Scientific Investigations to the Dutch Senate.

Read Erik’s paper here and read details of this event here.

October 2021 – see a presentation on our testbed!

Further to the below, the REPHRAIN Testbed team will be presenting during the 5th International Workshop on SECurity and Privacy Requirements Engineering (SECPRE) workshop programme, in conjunction with ESORICS 2021 – this will be taking place at 11.30 CET, 8 October.

Interested parties can register here – SECPRE will be held as a virtual event to ensure all are able to attend.

September 2021 – A publication on our testbed!

A Privacy Testbed for IT Professionals: Use Cases and Design Considerations

Prepared by Joseph Gardiner, Mohammad Tahaei, Jacob Halsey, Tariq Elahi and Awais Rashid

Abstract: We propose a testbed to assist IT professionals in evaluating privacy properties of software systems. The goal of the testbed, currently under construction, is to help IT professionals systematically evaluate and understand the privacy behaviour of applications. We first provide three use cases to support developers and privacy engineers and then describe key design considerations for the testbed.

Paper available for download here.

September 2021 – Launch of REPHRAIN Masterclasses

Starting from 2 September, REPHRAIN will be running and hosting a series of masterclasses on specialised topics – these sessions will allow a collaborative space for researchers, industry and interested parties to discuss the challenges and best practice principles in specific areas.

These masterclasses will involve our researchers presenting case studies on their work, as well as panel-based / round-table Q&A sessions. The events will be hosted online for the time being and will be free to attend – tickets can be reserved via Eventbrite and the masterclasses will be advertised via this website, our newsletter and our Twitter account.

For more information on our masterclass series, including our current schedule, check our dedicated page here.

16 August, 2021 – A new research paper on PSIs!

Polynomial Representation Is Tricky: Maliciously Secure Private Set Intersections Revisited

As accepted at ESORICS 2021! Prepared by Aydin Abadi, Steven Murdoch, Thomas Zacharias

Abstract: Private Set Intersection protocols (PSIs) allow parties to compute the intersection of their private sets, such that nothing about the sets’ elements beyond the intersection is revealed. PSIs have a variety of applications, primarily in efficiently supporting data sharing in a privacy-preserving manner. At Eurocrypt 2019, Ghosh and Nilges proposed three efficient PSIs based on the polynomial representation of sets and proved their security against active adversaries. In this work, we show that these three PSIs are susceptible to several serious attacks. The attacks let an adversary (1) learn the correct intersection while making its victim believe that the intersection is empty, (2) learn a certain element of its victim’s set beyond the intersection, and (3) delete multiple elements of its victim’s input set. We explain why the proofs did not identify these attacks and propose a set of mitigations.

Paper available for download here.

Practitioner-in-Residence / Researcher-in-Residence Programmes

REPHRAIN is delighted to announce we are accepting expressions of interest for our practitioner-in-residence programme and applications for our researcher-in-residence programme!

These programmes aim to cultivate and provide a public space to maximise collaboration with the wider community and to offer an environment for mutual engagement and learning. The remit of the programmes is to host researchers and practitioners from the wider UK/international community in its touchdown space in Bristol and its partner organisations (current Government restrictions pending) to enable access to the Centre’s facilities, including datasets and testbed, and for the Centre to benefit in return from proposal outputs.

Both are open, rolling calls and submissions will be welcome until 31 March 2023.

More details on both can be found on their dedicated pages – Practitioner-in-residence & Researcher-in-residence.

REPHRAIN – UKRI Protecting Citizens Online funding call event

The latest UKRI Protecting Citizens Online programme funding call was launched at the end of May 2021. There will be approximately £11M available to fund 4 successful large proposals.

To support the UKRI, the REPHRAIN centre ran an information event to bring together members of the academic and industry community. The focus of the event was to provide the opportunity for interested parties to engage with each other and to support the synthesis of ideas for potential proposals. As with other UKRI calls there will be an emphasis for successful proposals to have strong engagement with external stakeholders.

As part of the event’s agenda, three panels were run, each chaired by a member of the REPHRAIN Strategic Board. The panels were based around the three research themes that the funding call hopes to address (further details of these can be found in the REPHRAIN scoping document):

1. Understanding citizens’ needs and empowering them in ever changing threat contexts
2. Navigating information asymmetries between state, companies and citizens
3. What does good or balanced look like?

Thank you to all who attended, the presentation slide deck can be found here.

REPHRAIN Quarterly Newsletter

The REPHRAIN Centre have launched our centre newsletter – this will be sent on a quarterly basis and will complement both this page and our twitter account, providing greater detail on some of the larger developments both in our work and in the broader field.

A dedicated page complete with archive and sign-up details can be found here.

REPHRAIN Strategic Funding Call (now closed)

We are very pleased to announce that the first REPHRAIN Strategic Funding Call window for applications was a great success and is now closed.

Since its launch, the REPHRAIN Centre team has been engaging in a series of scoping activities – involving consultation workshops as well as literature reviews with the aim of identifying priority areas for the first REPHRAIN Strategic Funding Call.

Full details of the call, topics and submission process are now available here.

The total funding for this call is £500,000 (at 100% fEC), of which 80% will be funded by REPHRAIN. We expect to fund multiple proposals from this fund and will consider larger proposals that address more than one topic area.  All funded projects must be completed by 30 June 2022.

See a below timeline for key dates.

Call open: 19 April 2021
Call closes: 21 May 2021
Decision panel: w/c 21 June 2021
Successful applicants notified: w/c 28 June 2021
Projects to start from: 05 July 2021

22 March, 2021 – New white paper by the REPHRAIN Practitioner-in Residence, Erik van de Sandt

Towards Data Scientific Investigations: A Comprehensive Data Science Framework and Case Study for Investigating Organized Crime and Serving the Public Interest

Prepared by Erik van de Sandt, Arthur van Bunningen, Jarmo van Lenthe, John Fokker

Abstract: Big Data problems thwart the effectiveness of today’s organized crime investigations. A frequently proposed solution is the introduction of ‘smart’ data science technologies to process raw data into factual evidence. This transition to – what we call – data scientific investigations is nothing less than a paradigm shift for law enforcement agencies, and cannot be done alone. Yet a common language for data scientific investigations is so far missing. This white paper therefore presents guiding principles and best practices for data scientific investigations of organized crime, developed and put into practice by operational experts over several years, while connecting to existing law enforcement and industry standards. The associated framework is called CSAE (pronounced as ‘see-say’): a comprehensive framework that consists of a business process, methodology, policy agenda and public interest philosophy for data scientific operations.

Paper available for download here.