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Open research in security and cryptology

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Protecting digital infrastructure from attacks, hacks, and breaches is one of  the more challenging research forefronts in computer science. SpringerOpen’s journals in these areas publish essential research that, being open access, benefit all. 

Selected recent articles

Analytics for characterizing and measuring the naturalness of online personae

Currently 40 % of the world’s population, around 3 billion users, are online using cyberspace for everything from work to pleasure. While there are numerous benefits accompanying this medium, the Internet is not without its perils. In this case study article, we focus specifically on the challenge of fake (or unnatural) online identities, such as those used to defraud people and organizations, with the aim of exploring an approach to detect them.

Jason R. C. Nurse, Arnau Erola, Thomas Gibson-Robinson, Michael Goldsmith, and Sadie Creese

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Security Informatics

Using IM-Visor to stop untrusted IME apps from stealing sensitive keystrokes

Third-party IME (Input Method Editor) apps are often the preference means of interaction for Android users’ input. In this paper, we first discuss the insecurity of IME apps, including the Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs) and malicious IME apps, which may leak users’ sensitive keystrokes. The current defense system, such as I-BOX, is vulnerable to the prefix substitution attack and the colluding attack due to the post-IME nature. We provide a deeper understanding that all the designs with the post-IME nature are subject to the prefix-substitution and colluding attacks. To remedy the above post-IME system’s flaws, we propose a new idea, pre-IME, which guarantees that “Is this touch event a sensitive keystroke?” analysis will always access user touch events prior to the execution of any IME app code. We design an innovative TrustZone-based framework named IM-Visor which has the pre-IME nature. Specifically, IM-Visor creates the isolation environment named STIE as soon as a user intends to type on a soft keyboard, then the STIE intercepts,Android event sub translates and analyzes the user’s touch input. If the input is sensitive, the translation of keystrokes will be delivered to user apps through a trusted path. Otherwise, IM-Visor replays non-sensitive keystroke touch events for IME apps or replays non-keystroke touch events for other apps. A prototype of IM-Visor has been implemented and tested with several most popular IMEs. The experimental results show that IM-Visor has small runtime overheads.

Chen Tian, Yazhe Wang, Peng Liu, Qihui Zhou, and Chengyi Zhang

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The SpringerOpen blog highlights recent noteworthy research of general interest published in our open access journals.