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Conference Paper
Compagno, Alberto, Conti, Mauro, Lain, Daniele, Tsudik, Gene.  2017.  Don'T Skype & Type!: Acoustic Eavesdropping in Voice-Over-IP. Proceedings of the 2017 ACM on Asia Conference on Computer and Communications Security. :703–715.

Acoustic emanations of computer keyboards represent a serious privacy issue. As demonstrated in prior work, physical properties of keystroke sounds might reveal what a user is typing. However, previous attacks assumed relatively strong adversary models that are not very practical in many real-world settings. Such strong models assume: (i) adversary's physical proximity to the victim, (ii) precise profiling of the victim's typing style and keyboard, and/or (iii) significant amount of victim's typed information (and its corresponding sounds) available to the adversary. This paper presents and explores a new keyboard acoustic eavesdropping attack that involves Voice-over-IP (VoIP), called Skype & Type (S&T), while avoiding prior strong adversary assumptions. This work is motivated by the simple observation that people often engage in secondary activities (including typing) while participating in VoIP calls. As expected, VoIP software acquires and faithfully transmits all sounds, including emanations of pressed keystrokes, which can include passwords and other sensitive information. We show that one very popular VoIP software (Skype) conveys enough audio information to reconstruct the victim's input – keystrokes typed on the remote keyboard. Our results demonstrate that, given some knowledge on the victim's typing style and keyboard model, the attacker attains top-5 accuracy of 91.7% in guessing a random key pressed by the victim. Furthermore, we demonstrate that S&T is robust to various VoIP issues (e.g., Internet bandwidth fluctuations and presence of voice over keystrokes), thus confirming feasibility of this attack. Finally, it applies to other popular VoIP software, such as Google Hangouts.

Stanciu, Valeriu-Daniel, Spolaor, Riccardo, Conti, Mauro, Giuffrida, Cristiano.  2016.  On the Effectiveness of Sensor-enhanced Keystroke Dynamics Against Statistical Attacks. Proceedings of the Sixth ACM Conference on Data and Application Security and Privacy. :105–112.

In recent years, simple password-based authentication systems have increasingly proven ineffective for many classes of real-world devices. As a result, many researchers have concentrated their efforts on the design of new biometric authentication systems. This trend has been further accelerated by the advent of mobile devices, which offer numerous sensors and capabilities to implement a variety of mobile biometric authentication systems. Along with the advances in biometric authentication, however, attacks have also become much more sophisticated and many biometric techniques have ultimately proven inadequate in face of advanced attackers in practice. In this paper, we investigate the effectiveness of sensor-enhanced keystroke dynamics, a recent mobile biometric authentication mechanism that combines a particularly rich set of features. In our analysis, we consider different types of attacks, with a focus on advanced attacks that draw from general population statistics. Such attacks have already been proven effective in drastically reducing the accuracy of many state-of-the-art biometric authentication systems. We implemented a statistical attack against sensor-enhanced keystroke dynamics and evaluated its impact on detection accuracy. On one hand, our results show that sensor-enhanced keystroke dynamics are generally robust against statistical attacks with a marginal equal-error rate impact (textless0.14%). On the other hand, our results show that, surprisingly, keystroke timing features non-trivially weaken the security guarantees provided by sensor features alone. Our findings suggest that sensor dynamics may be a stronger biometric authentication mechanism against recently proposed practical attacks.

Cardaioli, Matteo, Conti, Mauro, Sorbo, Andrea Di, Fabrizio, Enrico, Laudanna, Sonia, Visaggio, Corrado A..  2021.  It’s a Matter of Style: Detecting Social Bots through Writing Style Consistency. 2021 International Conference on Computer Communications and Networks (ICCCN). :1—9.
Social bots are computer algorithms able to produce content and interact with other users on social media autonomously, trying to emulate and possibly influence humans’ behavior. Indeed, bots are largely employed for malicious purposes, like spreading disinformation and conditioning electoral campaigns. Nowadays, bots’ capability of emulating human behaviors has become increasingly sophisticated, making their detection harder. In this paper, we aim at recognizing bot-driven accounts by evaluating the consistency of users’ writing style over time. In particular, we leverage the intuition that while bots compose posts according to fairly deterministic processes, humans are influenced by subjective factors (e.g., emotions) that can alter their writing style. To verify this assumption, by using stylistic consistency indicators, we characterize the writing style of more than 12,000 among bot-driven and human-operated Twitter accounts and find that statistically significant differences can be observed between the different types of users. Thus, we evaluate the effectiveness of different machine learning (ML) algorithms based on stylistic consistency features in discerning between human-operated and bot-driven Twitter accounts and show that the experimented ML algorithms can achieve high performance (i.e., F-measure values up to 98%) in social bot detection tasks.
Conti, Mauro, Nati, Michele, Rotundo, Enrico, Spolaor, Riccardo.  2016.  Mind The Plug! Laptop-User Recognition Through Power Consumption. Proceedings of the 2Nd ACM International Workshop on IoT Privacy, Trust, and Security. :37–44.

The Internet of Things (IoT) paradigm, in conjunction with the one of smart cities, is pursuing toward the concept of smart buildings, i.e., “intelligent” buildings able to receive data from a network of sensors and thus to adapt the environment. IoT sensors can monitor a wide range of environmental features such as the energy consumption inside a building at fine-grained level (e.g., for a specific wall-socket). Some smart buildings already deploy energy monitoring in order to optimize the energy use for good purposes (e.g., to save money, to reduce pollution). Unfortunately, such measurements raise a significant amount of privacy concerns. In this paper, we investigate the feasibility of recognizing the pair laptop-user (i.e., a user using her own laptop) from the energy traces produced by her laptop. We design MTPlug, a framework that achieves this goal relying on supervised machine learning techniques as pattern recognition in multivariate time series. We present a comprehensive implementation of this system and run a thorough set of experiments. In particular, we collected data by monitoring the energy consumption of two groups of laptop users, some office employees and some intruders, for a total of 27 people. We show that our system is able to build an energy profile for a laptop user with accuracy above 80%, in less than 3.5 hours of laptop usage. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first research that assesses the feasibility of laptop users profiling relying uniquely on fine-grained energy traces collected using wall-socket smart meters.

Calzavara, Stefano, Conti, Mauro, Focardi, Riccardo, Rabitti, Alvise, Tolomei, Gabriele.  2019.  Mitch: A Machine Learning Approach to the Black-Box Detection of CSRF Vulnerabilities. 2019 IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy (EuroS P). :528–543.

Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) is one of the oldest and simplest attacks on the Web, yet it is still effective on many websites and it can lead to severe consequences, such as economic losses and account takeovers. Unfortunately, tools and techniques proposed so far to identify CSRF vulnerabilities either need manual reviewing by human experts or assume the availability of the source code of the web application. In this paper we present Mitch, the first machine learning solution for the black-box detection of CSRF vulnerabilities. At the core of Mitch there is an automated detector of sensitive HTTP requests, i.e., requests which require protection against CSRF for security reasons. We trained the detector using supervised learning techniques on a dataset of 5,828 HTTP requests collected on popular websites, which we make available to other security researchers. Our solution outperforms existing detection heuristics proposed in the literature, allowing us to identify 35 new CSRF vulnerabilities on 20 major websites and 3 previously undetected CSRF vulnerabilities on production software already analyzed using a state-of-the-art tool.

Compagno, Alberto, Conti, Mauro, Droms, Ralph.  2016.  OnboardICNg: A Secure Protocol for On-boarding IoT Devices in ICN. Proceedings of the 3rd ACM Conference on Information-Centric Networking. :166–175.

Information-Centric Networking (ICN) is an emerging networking paradigm that focuses on content distribution and aims at replacing the current IP stack. Implementations of ICN have demonstrated its advantages over IP, in terms of network performance and resource requirements. Because of these advantages, ICN is also considered to be a good network paradigm candidate for the Internet-of-Things (IoT), especially in scenarios involving resource constrained devices. In this paper we propose OnboardICNg, the first secure protocol for on-boarding (authenticating and authorizing) IoT devices in ICN mesh networks. OnboardICNg can securely onboard resource constrained devices into an existing IoT network, outperforming the authentication protocol selected for the ZigBee-IP specification: EAP-PANA, i.e., the Protocol for carrying Authentication for Network Access (PANA) combined with the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP). In particular we show that, compared with EAP-PANA, OnboardICNg reduces the communication and energy consumption, by 87% and 66%, respectively.

Conti, Mauro, Dushku, Edlira, Mancini, Luigi V..  2019.  RADIS: Remote Attestation of Distributed IoT Services. 2019 Sixth International Conference on Software Defined Systems (SDS). :25–32.
Remote attestation is a security technique through which a remote trusted party (i.e., Verifier) checks the trust-worthiness of a potentially untrusted device (i.e., Prover). In the Internet of Things (IoT) systems, the existing remote attestation protocols propose various approaches to detect the modified software and physical tampering attacks. However, in an inter-operable IoT system, in which IoT devices interact autonomously among themselves, an additional problem arises: a compromised IoT service can influence the genuine operation of other invoked service, without changing the software of the latter. In this paper, we propose a protocol for Remote Attestation of Distributed IoT Services (RADIS), which verifies the trust-worthiness of distributed IoT services. Instead of attesting the complete memory content of the entire interoperable IoT devices, RADIS attests only the services involved in performing a certain functionality. RADIS relies on a control-flow attestation technique to detect IoT services that perform an unexpected operation due to their interactions with a malicious remote service. Our experiments show the effectiveness of our protocol in validating the integrity status of a distributed IoT service.
Vliegen, Jo, Rabbani, Md Masoom, Conti, Mauro, Mentens, Nele.  2019.  SACHa: Self-Attestation of Configurable Hardware. 2019 Design, Automation Test in Europe Conference Exhibition (DATE). :746–751.
Device attestation is a procedure to verify whether an embedded device is running the intended application code. This way, protection against both physical attacks and remote attacks on the embedded software is aimed for. With the wide adoption of Field-Programmable Gate Arrays or FPGAs, hardware also became configurable, and hence susceptible to attacks (just like software). In addition, an upcoming trend for hardware-based attestation is the use of configurable FPGA hardware. Therefore, in order to attest a whole system that makes use of FPGAs, the status of both the software and the hardware needs to be verified, without the availability of a tamper-resistant hardware module.In this paper, we propose a solution in which a prover core on the FPGA performs an attestation of the entire FPGA, including a self-attestation. This way, the FPGA can be used as a tamper-resistant hardware module to perform hardware-based attestation of a processor, resulting in a protection of the entire hardware/software system against malicious code updates.
Ambrosin, Moreno, Conti, Mauro, Ibrahim, Ahmad, Neven, Gregory, Sadeghi, Ahmad-Reza, Schunter, Matthias.  2016.  SANA: Secure and Scalable Aggregate Network Attestation. Proceedings of the 2016 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security. :731–742.

Large numbers of smart connected devices, also named as the Internet of Things (IoT), are permeating our environments (homes, factories, cars, and also our body - with wearable devices) to collect data and act on the insight derived. Ensuring software integrity (including OS, apps, and configurations) on such smart devices is then essential to guarantee both privacy and safety. A key mechanism to protect the software integrity of these devices is remote attestation: A process that allows a remote verifier to validate the integrity of the software of a device. This process usually makes use of a signed hash value of the actual device's software, generated by dedicated hardware. While individual device attestation is a well-established technique, to date integrity verification of a very large number of devices remains an open problem, due to scalability issues. In this paper, we present SANA, the first secure and scalable protocol for efficient attestation of large sets of devices that works under realistic assumptions. SANA relies on a novel signature scheme to allow anyone to publicly verify a collective attestation in constant time and space, for virtually an unlimited number of devices. We substantially improve existing swarm attestation schemes by supporting a realistic trust model where: (1) only the targeted devices are required to implement attestation; (2) compromising any device does not harm others; and (3) all aggregators can be untrusted. We implemented SANA and demonstrated its efficiency on tiny sensor devices. Furthermore, we simulated SANA at large scale, to assess its scalability. Our results show that SANA can provide efficient attestation of networks of 1,000,000 devices, in only 2.5 seconds.

Pajola, Luca, Pasa, Luca, Conti, Mauro.  2019.  Threat Is in the Air: Machine Learning for Wireless Network Applications. Proceedings of the ACM Workshop on Wireless Security and Machine Learning. :16–21.

With the spread of wireless application, huge amount of data is generated every day. Thanks to its elasticity, machine learning is becoming a fundamental brick in this field, and many of applications are developed with the use of it and the several techniques that it offers. However, machine learning suffers on different problems and people that use it often are not aware of the possible threats. Often, an adversary tries to exploit these vulnerabilities in order to obtain benefits; because of this, adversarial machine learning is becoming wide studied in the scientific community. In this paper, we show state-of-the-art adversarial techniques and possible countermeasures, with the aim of warning people regarding sensible argument related to the machine learning.

Monaro, Merylin, Spolaor, Riccardo, Li, QianQian, Conti, Mauro, Gamberini, Luciano, Sartori, Giuseppe.  2017.  Type Me the Truth!: Detecting Deceitful Users via Keystroke Dynamics. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Availability, Reliability and Security. :60:1–60:6.

In this paper, we propose a novel method, based on keystroke dynamics, to distinguish between fake and truthful personal information written via a computer keyboard. Our method does not need any prior knowledge about the user who is providing data. To our knowledge, this is the first work that associates the typing human behavior with the production of lies regarding personal information. Via experimental analysis involving 190 subjects, we assess that this method is able to distinguish between truth and lies on specific types of autobiographical information, with an accuracy higher than 75%. Specifically, for information usually required in online registration forms (e.g., name, surname and email), the typing behavior diverged significantly between truthful or untruthful answers. According to our results, keystroke analysis could have a great potential in detecting the veracity of self-declared information, and it could be applied to a large number of practical scenarios requiring users to input personal data remotely via keyboard.

Journal Article
Ying, Xuhang, Bernieri, Giuseppe, Conti, Mauro, Bushnell, Linda, Poovendran, Radha.  2021.  Covert Channel-Based Transmitter Authentication in Controller Area Networks. IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing. :1–1.
In recent years, the security of automotive Cyber-Physical Systems (CPSs) is facing urgent threats due to the widespread use of legacy in-vehicle communication systems. As a representative legacy bus system, the Controller Area Network (CAN) hosts Electronic Control Units (ECUs) that are crucial for the vehicles functioning. In this scenario, malicious actors can exploit the CAN vulnerabilities, such as the lack of built-in authentication and encryption schemes, to launch CAN bus attacks. In this paper, we present TACAN (Transmitter Authentication in CAN), which provides secure authentication of ECUs on the legacy CAN bus by exploiting the covert channels. TACAN turns upside-down the originally malicious concept of covert channels and exploits it to build an effective defensive technique that facilitates transmitter authentication. TACAN consists of three different covert channels: 1) Inter-Arrival Time (IAT)-based, 2) Least Significant Bit (LSB)-based, and 3) hybrid covert channels. In order to validate TACAN, we implement the covert channels on the University of Washington (UW) EcoCAR (Chevrolet Camaro 2016) testbed. We further evaluate the bit error, throughput, and detection performance of TACAN through extensive experiments using the EcoCAR testbed and a publicly available dataset collected from Toyota Camry 2010.
Conference Name: IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing