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This page lists projects I currently supervise. Students that finished their projects and graduated are listed on the page of supervised theses. A LaTeX template for OU theses has been kindly provided by Annet Vink and Katleen de Nil (based on the work by Niels Tielenburg).
Crime has more and more ties to the digital world. The domain of digital forensics focuses on investigating and preserving digital evidence. However, three trends combine to make this very hard in the future: (i) data carriers are increasing in size, meaning there is orders of magnitude more data to sift through; (ii) more and more items are becoming data carriers, meaning many different items may need to be investigateed; (iii) the ever-increasing diversity in apps means that there is an ever-increasing diversity in file formats where evidence may be stored.
This project focuses on improving and generalising techniques for recovering deleted files, in order to preserve this important line of digital forensics for future cases.
Data on the web is often volatile: prices you see in a webshop today might have changed tomorrow. In this project, we investigate various aspects of online tracking and build tools to help users track websites themselves.
The project focuses on using scraping technology to investigate security and privacy on the web. Examples of such investigations include investigating price differentiation and website login security.
Cookie consent dialogs are on just about any website one goes to (except this one :). Accepting cookies is typically made far easier than rejecting cookies. Moreover, thanks to the use of dark patterns, it may be the case that a user believes to have rejected all cookies, but still receives some non-functional cookies. The goal of this project is to investigate cookie dialogs by observing the messages they then send back to their backend, and thereby to learn what clicks result in what choices.
In the financial world, insider trading is a grave (and punishable) sin. That is, you're not allowed to engage in trades that could be affected by non-public information that you happen to have. In the DeFi world, however, some information must be made public prior to being effectuated. In particular: a transaction must be proposed for inclusion in a block. Only after the block is mined, is the transaction executed. This gives attackers an opportunity to act upon proposed transactions prior to execution: frontrunning. The goal of this project is to investigate ways to mitigate frontrunning.
In their thesis on detecting cookie dialog dark patterns, Koen and Maarten found that within the EU, French websites (that is, .fr websites) offer significantly more often a `reject all' option than other countries. They hypothesized it could be due to the French DPA imposing harsh fines for lack of this button in early 2022. The goal of this project is to look at historical data available from the Web Archive to investigate the origins of this difference.
Passports and other international identification papers have become partially digitized. Modern versions allow for various forms of digital interaction with an embedded chip. The goal of this project is to evaluate the various authentication flows for susceptibility to attacks by quantum computers, and to propose strengthened protocol designs where necessary.
Passwords are by far the most widespread means of authentication in the digital world. However, weak passwords constitute a security risk. Therefore, apps and websites can enforce rules to make sure users use strong(er) passwords. The goal of this project is to investigate what types of rules are enforced in the wild, and whether the enforcement happens on the client-side only, or on both client- and server-side.
Smart contracts are, by nature, publicly available. Obfuscation have been used (e.g., by CryptoKitties) to prevent others from easily reverse-engineering the smart contract. There are various obfuscation techniques that may be applied to smart contracts. It is not clear whether all of these increase the costs of execution in any given situation -- it is even possible that in some cases, obfuscation may help reduce execution costs. The goal of this project is to implement several obfuscation techniques, apply them to a large set of smart contracts and measure the effects of obfuscation (in terms of execution costs as well as code size and other relevant metrics).
Smart phones are nowadays ubiquitous and can be used as a "what you have" factor in two factor authentication (2FA). The goal of this project is to enable such functionality to happen seamlessly, that is: presence of the phone is automatically detected. Depending on the use case, an "okay" button may need to be pressed on the phone, or the authentication automatically succeeds based on proximity of the phone.