UAB - The University of Alabama at Birmingham

SPIES – Spying for a Safer World!

The SPIES research group in the Computer and Information Sciences Department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), led by Prof. Nitesh Saxena, conducts research on multitude of topics related to the security and privacy of “emerging” systems or paradigms. A computing and networking system is considered emerging if it has already started getting deployed in the real-world (albeit not to its fullest capacity), or is deemed promising for a wide-scale deployment in the near future. The security and privacy issues surrounding such emerging systems, however, may prevent end users from utilizing their full potential, or, even worse, may rule out the chances of their deployment in the future. Currently, these emerging systems range from mobile and wireless networks (such as those involving smartphones, sensors and RFID devices) to the Internet class of systems (such as P2P systems and online social networks).

The goal of the SPIES group is to improve the security of emerging systems, to say in short. With this goal in mind, the group is currently running many projects centered around the following topics:

  • Usable Security and Privacy (secure association of wireless devices, strong user authentication, neuroscience-enhanced security, and extrinsically motivated or playful security)
  • Security and Privacy of Small Devices (such as RFID/NFC devices and medical implants)
  • Fault-Tolerant Distributed Security and Cryptographic Services (such as secure storage in the cloud)
  • Privacy and Anonymity on the Internet (such as web search privacy and location privacy)

SPIES is supported by multiple grants from NSF, Google, Cisco, Intel, Nokia and Research in Motion. The SPIES researchers consistently publish in top-tier conferences and journals in Computer Science. The SPIES graduates can be found spying around, and earning big bucks :-), in the premises of major software and research organizations, and top academic institutions in the US. The SPIES affiliates like to go by the tag line, “Spying for a Safer World.”

The SPIES group is affiliated with UAB’s Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research (CIA-JFR), and works closely with other groups within the Department, at UAB and at other well-known places worldwide.