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Assistant Professor of Computer Science Ardalan Amiri Sani recently received a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award for his research on “Securing Mobile Devices by Hardening their System Software” (see the NSF award page here.) The NSF CAREER program supports early career-development activities of those who are integrating research and education. As outlined in the award abstract, Amiri Sani’s project aims to “[enhance] the security of mobile devices [such as smartphones, tablets, and wearables]” and at the same time “train students in systems software programming through outreach and tutorial activities.”

“Unfortunately, there are a large number of vulnerabilities in the operating systems of mobile devices, such as Android, and these vulnerabilities can be exploited by malicious applications to compromise the device,” says Amiri Sani. To address this concern, this awarded project will use three approaches. First, it will develop a security monitor to provide security and privacy guarantees for a mobile device despite a compromised operating system. Second, it will design novel tools to identify and fix mobile operating system vulnerabilities. Finally, it will create a vetting layer to safeguard the operating system interface against malicious applications.

“Mobile devices are the primary personal computers of many users all around the world,” notes Amiri Sani. “As a result, making them more secure will have tremendous benefits for everyone.”

— Shani Murray