Who I am

I am a research scientist at the International Computer Science Institute - UC Berkeley, performing research in the area of network measurements, mobile privacy and security. I am one of the creators of Lumen app.

What I do

My research work involves studying issues related to privacy and security on the mobile Internet, online information controls, and understanding how data is treated by networks and providers that pass it along.

News

May. 2020: Our paper on the privacy and security risks of pre-installed Android apps has received the Best Practical Paper Award at the 41st IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy.

Jan. 2020: Our paper on the privacy and security risks of pre-installed Android apps has received the CNIL-Inria Privacy Protection Award.
Jan. 2020: The Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) has awarded the Emilio Aced Award to our paper on the privacy and security risks of pre-installed Android apps.
Dec. 2019: NBC Nightly News interviewed me and my ICSI colleagues in their documentary about online privacy.
Oct. 2019: I successfully defended my PhD dissertation, and have joined the International Computer Science Institute.
Mar. 2019: Check out the coverage of our paper titled "An Analysis of Pre-installed Android Software" by Reuters and ZDNet.
Mar. 2019: Two of our papers titled "An Analysis of Pre-installed Android Software" and "ICLab: A Global, Longitudinal Internet Censorship Measurement Platform" were accepted at IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy 2020.
Nov. 2018: Our paper titled "Coming of Age: A Longitudinal Study of TLS Deployment" was awarded the Distinguished Paper Award at ACM IMC 2018.
May. 2018: BuzzFeed cited our research on COPPA violations and mobile ATSes in their article.
Apr. 2018: Watch NBC Nightly News' coverage of our research on COPPA violations here.
Apr. 2018: Our research on COPPA violations in mobile apps has been covered by The Guardian, The Verge, Washington Post, CNET, Fox News, The Inquirer, and New York Post!
Feb. 2018: Our paper titled ""Won’t Somebody Think of the Children" Privacy Analysis at Scale: A Case Study With COPPA" has been accepted into PETS 2018.
Dec. 2017I was interviewed by ABC 33/40 in their coverage of inappropriate ads in chilren's apps.
Nov. 2017: Our paper titled "The Cloud that Runs the Mobile Internet" has been accepted into INFOCOM 2018.
Sep. 2017: Our paper titled "Apps, Trackers, Privacy and Regulators: A Global Study of the Mobile Tracking Ecosystem" has been accepted into NDSS 2018.
Sep. 2017: Our paper titled "Studying TLS Usage in Android Apps" has been accepted into ACM CoNEXT 2017.
Sep. 2017: Our paper titled "A Churn for the Better: Localizing Censorship using Network-level Path Churn and Network Tomography" has been accepted into ACM CoNEXT 2017.
Aug. 2017: Our paper titled "liberate (n): A library for exposing (traffic-classification) rules and avoiding them efficiently" has been accepted into ACM IMC 2017.
Jul. 2017: I was interviewed by The Daily Dot for their coverage of our work on Lumen
Jun. 2017: Our work on Lumen was covered by The Conversation and Newsweek.

Curriculum Vitae

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Publications

  • An Analysis of Pre-installed Android Software (pre-print)

    In IEEE S&P (Oakland) 2020. San Francisco, California, USA, May 2020

  • Coming of Age: A Longitudinal Study of TLS Deployment

    In ACM IMC 2018. Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Nov. 2018

  • Studying TLS Usage in Android Apps

    In ACM CoNEXT 2017. Seoul/Incheon, South Korea, Dec. 2017

  • "Is Our Children’s Apps Learning?" Automatically Detecting COPPA Violations

    In Workshop on Technology and Consumer Protection (ConPro) 2017

  • Haystack: In Situ Mobile Traffic Analysis in User Space

    arXiv:1510.01419 Oct. 2015

    In ACM HotMobile Poster & Demo Session. St. Augustine, Florida, Feb. 2016 (abstract|poster)

  • Meddle: Enabling Transparency and Control for Mobile Internet Traffic

    In Journal of Technology Science (JoTS) Oct. 2015

  • Internet Outages, the Eyewitness Accounts: Analysis of the Outages Mailing List

    In Proc. of the Passive and Active Measurement Conference (PAM) 2015. New York, New York

  • Identifying Traffic Differentiation on Cellular Data Networks

    In ACM SIGCOMM 2014 Poster & Demo Session. Chicago, Illinois (abstract|poster)

  • Projects

    Academic Projects

    • In Situ Mobile Privacy Leaks Detection and Measurement Platform
      As part of my work as a graduate student intern at ICSI, I helped develop a mobile application that enables detection of private information exfilteration by applications without requiring root access by implementing a VPN interface on the device.
      I developed the module responsible for intercepting encrypted communication on the device (TLS proxy). The mobile application, called "Haystack", is available to download from the Google Play Store.
    • Information Controls Lab (ICLab)
      ICLab is a platform designed for repeatable measurements to detect and analyze information controls and Internet interference at scale. It's a joint work between The Citizen Lab, Stony Brook University, and Princeton University.
      I have been working on developing and deploying the open-source ICLab software platform called Centinel. The software platform supports running custom measurements across any collection of vantage points across the globe and analyzing measurement results using the ICLab data management platform (DMP).
    • Mobile Middlebox Detection
      A joint effort between Northeastern University and Stony Brook University, the mobile middlebox detection project aims at detecting interference introduced by middleboxes in the mobile environment by running active measurements from the edge. These measurements include detecting traffic differentiation for different applications using a novel record-replay method. The differentiation detection application is available to download from the Google Play Store.

    Contact

    Email: abbas {at} icsi {dot} berkeley {dot} edu
    Office: International Computer Science Institute
    1947 Center St,
    Suite 600,
    Berkeley, California 94704
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