Category Archives: Research

Friday Highlights: Connected Car, OTT TV, and Sensors for Good

Intertrust’s Friday Highlights provides a weekly review and analysis of a variety of articles that highlight trends in digital trust, Internet security, and Internet privacy. Here are the top connected car, OTT TV, and “wearables” stories from last week.

Privacy and Security in the Connected Car Era

This week, Intertrust’s whiteCryption subsidiary participated in the Connected Car Expo in Los Angeles showcasing its automotive software security solutions. It’s also worth pointing out that security and privacy in the connected car is something which Intertrust and whiteCryption have been thinking about for a while now. So, to highlight issues around the emerging connected car market, here are some articles about the connected car, privacy and security from this week.

Written from a European perspective, here is a good overview of some of the legal conundrums surrounding privacy and security in the connected car.

Top 5 takeaways on connected cars

Traditionally, all the software contained in automobiles has been tightly controlled by the automobile manufacturer. With individuals now expecting their connected cars to run apps like their smartphones, manufacturers are beginning to open up their cars to third-party app developers. While this is a plus for the user experience, third-party apps represent an additional security and privacy threat which all parties in the ecosystem must work to address. This week, Honda announced a new program to work with app developers with privacy being one focus.

Honda wants to help developers build better Android Auto apps

Here’s a company working on a solution bringing the connected car experience to older vehicles. It will be interesting to see how they address security issues in vehicles that weren’t designed to be connected to the Internet.

The Internet of Anything: The Little Box That Hooks Your Old Car Up to the Internet

One principal of security is understanding what are targets for bad actors. There is now a proposal in front of the New Jersey Legislature on how to protect the privacy of data held by a component already present in many of the cars today. These are “event data recorders” (often called “black boxes”) which record quite a lot of information related to the operation of a car. Avoiding bad actor access to the data in these devices is one of the challenges in connected car security. By the way, other politicians in the United States have also focused on privacy issues around the connected car, including a United States Senator.

Proposed New Jersey Legislation Seeks to Protect Privacy Interests in Motor Vehicle’s “Black Box” Data

Privacy Professionals Gather in Europe

Continuing on the theme of Intertrust event participation, we’re honored that Intertrust’s Knox Carey was chosen to speak on the subject of privacy and genetic data in the era of cloud computing at the IAPP Europe Data Protection Congress, 2014 held in Brussels this week. This event brought together luminaries from both the policy and technology fields to discuss the latest issues in the privacy field. For those of you who couldn’t make it to Brussels, here’s a site showing the Twitter feed from the event to give a flavor of the discussions.

The Social Story from the Data Protection Congress

The Continuing Inevitable March of OTT TV

Intertrust’s Gilles Boccon-Gibod was interviewed for the November/December 2015 edition of Streaming Media’s Video Monetization DRM and Syndication. In the interview, Gilles discusses some of the technical issues around content protection in OTT (over-the-top) TV. As we have noted, Intertrust believes OTT TV represents the future of TV and content protection will continue to play an important part in the growth of this industry. Here are some articles backing up the growth of OTT TV.

OTT TV is already big business.

OTT Services Predicted To Hit $5.8 In 2014

In the US market, the television industry lives and breathes off the viewership data produced by Nielsen Media. This week, it came out that Nielsen is planning on measuring the audience reach of TV content distributed by OTT TV providers such as Netflix and Amazon. This is an important validation of OTT TV. The implications of this move on the TV industry will be interesting to watch going forward.

Nielsen to Reportedly Measure Netflix and Amazon Viewership

One challenge facing the traditional TV industry in the US shows up with the fact that people now spend more time looking at their mobile devices rather than a TV set. Today’s smartphones and tablets are perfectly good platforms for enjoying OTT TV.

We Now Spend More Time Staring at Phones Than TVs

Sensors for Social Good

In Silicon Valley, the term “wearables” is often used to describe various devices worn on the body measuring an individual’s fitness and health. Here’s a story about how a startup wants to aggregate wearable sensors to gather important environmental data.

This Wearable Detects Pollution to Build Air Quality Maps in Real Time

Friday Fun

Here in the US, next week is when we hold our Thanksgiving holiday. It’s great to see that this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will feature a float celebrating women and engineering.

Engineering gets float in Thanksgiving Day Parade


Inventing the Internet of Trust

Were all delighted that Bob Tarjan has returned to Intertrust to reprise his role as Chief Scientist. Bob joins an enormously talented technology team led by our CTO Dave Maher, which has undertaken the task of researching some of the deepest open problems facing the evolution of the Internet.   As the number of connected devices grows astronomically, how do we secure, make trustworthy, and manage access to the constantly growing networks and big data sets of our connected society? Does the Web of the future submit to the rule of a small number of monolithic institutions, or do we reach a point when all falls down due to the chaos that ensues from leaving everything exposed to the threats of the open Internet? Or, is there a way to let specialists interoperate via trusted intermediaries?

The convenience and power of having all of our devices connected far outweigh any comfort that might come from creating disconnected islands of perfectly secure devices.  As esoteric as the concept of “digital trust” may seem, we all know how it feels when we see a suspicious link in an email, use a device for a mission critical function whose performance is dubious, or tap into a network whose owners are shady.  For years, we coped with the problem of making digital devices and networks more trustworthy by applying physical world practices (know your correspondent/network owners) or with Band-Aids (virus checkers), but these approaches simply do not scale. 

The very innards of operating systems and networks must be designed from the ground up to create a trusted platform.  One way to design such a platform is allow a single party to control the entire ecosystem.  This is not how the Internet was created, and it is not the way distributed systems work.  All societies are based on specialists stepping up and doing their jobs, collaborating to get the most efficient results.  In the physical world, we delegate trust and authority to different specialists and expect them to collaborate, share, and engage to solve problems.  

We don’t go to our insurance company for medical care; we dont go to our doctors for financial advice.  Yet in so many areas of our digital lives, we have been willing even eager to give up our data privacy by delegating authority over our email, contacts, social networks, finances, and health to a single, all-powerful ecosystem owner. And when that ecosystem owner breaches our trust? Unplug or switch ecosystems. Although many people are content (for now) with the benign dictatorships that run the Internet, its crazy to think that a single party will be the “App Store” manager for the trillions of devices that are coming online: the ocean-based probes, the light bulbs, the medical implants. Soon, it will be very boring to be a smart phone. 

If we accept that governments and the pantheon of powerful companies and institutions around the world are not likely to band together to form an oligarchic super-manager for the Internet, and that many institutions big and small will need to cooperate to harness the power of Big Data, weve all got a lot of homework to do.  The new frontier will be won by building a trusted web and allowing people to mine it, and travel through it.  We must extend whats been done and upgrade the very plumbing of the Internet to allow trust, rights management, privacy, and policy to be protected and managed programmatically; the result is more access to information, more control over our physical and digital environment, and more safety in crossing the oceans of information.

Intertrust started grappling with these technical problems years ago, recognizing that the computing platforms of the 80s and 90s which derived their security from an elaborate system of walls, door, and guards were poorly built for the tasks of the future.  Now, as the number of devices and data sets transcend the limits of imagination, the ideas we pioneered more than two decades ago are more relevant than ever. The evolution of the Internet, rather than closing the door on our past research, creates massive opportunities for new scientific breakthroughs.  If all the Webs an App Store, then everyone should become app writers. If these apps are going to come from a million places, then we need to build a network that makes it possible to ensure that digital objects are legitimate and that the rights that the data owners are properly respected. No single entity should own this process.  If data and devices need to cross corporate and national boundaries, trusted intermediaries need to emerge to help with safe passage.

Data owners today go far beyond music labels and studios. For example, every human being who has a mobile phone and uses Google generates large amounts of information about themselves. Today, that data is exploited by hundreds of companies that no one sees or knows.  Personal data, ranging from where we go and what we eat, to our medical information, to our cars behavior must be managed and protected, but also accessible to parties we authorize to search and analyze them. This is why were growing our research team and funding new work in the areas of distributed secure systems, algorithms, and data structures for big data networks and visualization technology for sharing and analyzing distributed big data sets.

Intertrust and its venture companies are charting new territory in big data privacy.  Our Genecloud project seeks to create a way for researchers, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and consumer healthcare services to share and access genome data and associated health records in a way that protects personal data privacy and rights but allows important healthcare questions to be asked and answered.  The heart of the Genecloud is a unique digital security and privacy architecture that governs the interaction between analysis programs and sensitive data, wherever that data may reside. This approach enables unprecedented data sharing across institutional and legal boundaries, while mitigating or eliminating risks to individual data privacy.

A similar concept underlies our Personagraph targeted advertising platform.  Many state-of-the-art of advertising technologies adopt a cavalier attitude toward personal information; these companies will do anything with your data to make a buck, dangling “free” services in front of consumers to get and troll personal information to advertisers.  Personagraph acts as a trusted intermediary for consumers and advertisers, collecting personal information but never revealing identity. Instead, ads and targeting information meet in a governed environment, creating a privacy-preserving win-win.  These are just two projects built on our trusted Internet platform that ensures software integrity, content protection and management, and secure authentication and identity management. 

Are we there yet? Certainly not!  There are many challenges that lie ahead, but we choose to embrace potential threats as opportunities.  Can we deliver high value research with a small team? Weve done it before, and we will do it again.  Making good science is not a monkeys-and-typewriters problem; meaningful innovation is inspired by real challenges tackled by smart teams and well-funded companies.  Our research-centric company has always drawn inspiration from a narrow set of very practical commercial problems.  Weve also been very fortunate to attract and retain some of the greatest minds of our time in our focus areas.   Bobs return to Intertrust is part of an evolution of our quarter-century of disruptive R&D, and we look forward to another generation of innovation as we transition from the raw Internet to a truly trusted one.