Trust me, I'm a machine

Apr 05, 2005

An EU computer science project hopes to make the uncertainty attached to the pervasive computing future a lot more secure through establishing trust.
Using the cost-benefit function at the heart of risk analysis, the IST programme-funded SECURE project developed software to integrate the very subjective, human concept of trust into computers, PDAs, mobile 'phones and other network devices.

Pervasive computing is a steadily emerging reality. Mobile phones and PDAs are becoming powerful computers in their own right, cars now routinely include telematics, which allows them to know where they are, for example. Now vending machines that accept payment from your mobile phone or PDA are in deployment. All of these devices will periodically connect to the network to perform transactions, whether it's information, services or purchases.

But as the network spreads and the devices that can access it multipy it is very difficult to maintain security. How do you know the person, or the machine, will not steal your personal information or that they will supply the goods, services or information you purchase?

"We've developed software that allows judgement based on establishing a value of trust and balancing that against the risk of abuse. We've mostly work on developing a system to stop spam, so the software would ask establish if the email is trustworthy. We also looked at using the service for an e-purse, an electronic purse for small transactions," says Vinny Cahill, coordinator of the SECURE project at Trinity College, Dublin.

The concept works like this: your PDA or mobile phone receives a query about your current location. First it establishes the identity of the request. Then your PDA or e-purse asks its trust calculator how trustworthy you are. The calculator bases this on previous experiences. If this is the first time, it will base it on your reputation or rating with others or, in the SECURE system, it can even delegate authority to another party.

Meanwhile the risk evaluator is calculating the cost of the transaction if your trust is abused. If the trust is greater than the risk, you PDA reveals your location. If it is unsure, it asks the user. This could be very helpful if you're near a store that's offering a discount on something you need.

The group says their software scheme can even work offline, the based on experience in similar situations.

SECURE developed their software in Java, which means it can work on almost any device.The project finished in December 2004, when it completed development of a software framework that can incoporated to various applications.

"Trust is emerging as a viable method for creating and using ad hoc networks and we'd like to take it further, but it will be another two or three years before it could be deployed in a commercial application," says Prof. Cahill.

Source: IST Results

Explore further: Chinese buyers lead charge in iPhone 6 global debut

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Apple seeks old magic with new products

Sep 06, 2014

With its highly awaited product launch next week, Apple is aiming for a new "big thing" as the iconic gadget-maker finds itself under pressure over a celebrity photo theft scandal.

Protecting privacy also means preserving democracy

Sep 01, 2014

What impact does the proliferation of new mobile technologies have? How does the sharing of personal data over the Internet threaten our society? Interview with Professor Jean-Pierre Hubaux, a specialist ...

For secure software: X-rays instead of passport control

Aug 21, 2014

Trust is good, control is better. This also applies to the security of computer programs. Instead of trusting "identification documents" in the form of certificates, JOANA, the new software analysis tool, examines the source ...

Malware worms its way into more apps, study finds

Jun 24, 2014

Malicious software is increasingly making its way into mobile phones through "cloned" versions of popular apps, and software weaknesses in legitimate ones, security researchers said Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Alibaba mega IPO caps founder Jack Ma success tale

2 hours ago

When Jack Ma founded Alibaba 15 years ago he insisted the e-commerce venture should see itself as competing against Silicon Valley, not other Chinese companies. That bold ambition from a time when China was ...

Privacy groups take 2nd hit on license plate data

2 hours ago

A California judge's ruling against a tech entrepreneur seeking access to records kept secret in government databases detailing the comings and goings of millions of cars in the San Diego area via license plate scans was ...

User comments : 0