Information Trust Institute block of abstract images
Information Trust Institute block of abstract images

Welcome to the ITI blog!

Sep 20. 2012

For all the academic papers I've written in my life, it is still a bit of a daunting task to take on blogging.  Where's the problem to be solved? Where's the thesis? What's the storyline…?  But I'm intent on making sure ITI communications are up to modern standards and expectations, so blog we will.  Do not, however, expect me to put ITI on Twitter.  A greybeard must draw the line somewhere. Besides, I need more than 140 characters just to clear my throat.

I'll be inviting friends and colleagues who have calendars as crowded as mine---or more---to contribute blog pieces on topics on trust.  That means I hope to get a new posting every once and a while, where "once and while" means not as often as every week, and, I hope, at least every month. 

With that all said, I'll take this platform to highlight societal and technical trends that involve information trust.  The first one is that computing is moving to the pocket and purse.  People interact with the cyber-world with handheld devices, far more than ever before.  For example, there are serious efforts afoot in Asia to use handheld devices to replace paper money and credit cards and be used in almost every financial interaction with computers and communication networks.  A step in this direction on my side of the Pacific just popped up in Apple's iOS 6 "Passbook" application that holds a number of e-documents with monetary value, e.g., movie tickets, coupons, or whatever else a compliant application chooses to park there.  Just how secure are our handhelds?  Consider: both the Apple and Android systems have thriving software countercultures based on first "jailbreaking" or "rooting" the device. This means puncturing intended system boundaries to give applications certain capabilities that the operating system intends to deny. No sooner is a new version of iOS or Android announced than new vulnerabilities are found and software released to exploit them.  While the intent is not malicious, the same vulnerabilities that allow cool new apps to be knowingly loaded allow malware to be unknowingly loaded.  Malware that steals passwords and credit card numbers and bank account information, at least for those users trusting enough to put that kind of sensitive stuff on their handhelds.

If we've learned anything about modern malware on the Internet, it's that malware targets the most commonly used systems, looking for information that can be turned into cash for the intruder. I, an iPhone user (who manages to misplace it at least once a week), am keeping my financially sensitive information off that device.