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  1. Today’s mobile apps employ third-party advertising and tracking (A&T) libraries, which may pose a threat to privacy. State-of-the-art detects and blocks outgoing A&T HTTP/S requests by using manually curated filter lists (e.g. EasyList), and recently, using machine learning approaches. The major bottleneck of both filter lists and classifiers is that they rely on experts and the community to inspect traffic and manually create filter list rules that can then be used to block traffic or label ground truth datasets. We propose NoMoATS – a system that removes this bottleneck by reducing the daunting task of manually creating filter rules, to the much easier and scalable task of labeling A&T libraries. Our system leverages stack trace analysis to automatically label which network requests are generated by A&T libraries. Using NoMoATS, we collect and label a new mobile traffic dataset. We use this dataset to train decision tree classifiers, which can be applied in real-time on the mobile device and achieve an average F-score of 93%. We show that both our automatic labeling and our classifiers discover thousands of requests destined to hundreds of different hosts, previously undetected by popular filter lists. To the best of our knowledge, our system is themore »first to (1) automatically label which mobile network requests are engaged in A&T, while requiring to only manually label libraries to their purpose and (2) apply on-device machine learning classifiers that operate at the granularity of URLs, can inspect connections across all apps, and detect not only ads, but also tracking.« less
  2. mart home devices are vulnerable to passive inference attacks based on network traffic, even in the presence of encryption. In this paper, we present PINGPONG, a tool that can automatically extract packet-level signatures for device events (e.g., light bulb turning ON/OFF) from network traffic. We evaluated PINGPONG on popular smart home devices ranging from smart plugs and thermostats to cameras, voice-activated devices, and smart TVs. We were able to: (1) automatically extract previously unknown signatures that consist of simple sequences of packet lengths and directions; (2) use those signatures to detect the devices or specific events with an average recall of more than 97%; (3) show that the signatures are unique among hundreds of millions of packets of real world network traffic; (4) show that our methodology is also applicable to publicly available datasets; and (5) demonstrate its robustness in different settings: events triggered by local and remote smartphones, as well as by home automation systems.
  3. Signal strength maps are of great importance to cellular providers for network planning and operation, however they are expensive to obtain and possibly limited or inaccurate in some locations. In this paper, we develop a prediction framework based on random forests to improve signal strength maps from limited measurements. First, we propose a random forests (RFs)-based predictor, with a rich set of features including location as well as time, cell ID, device hardware and other features. We show that our RFs-based predictor can significantly improve the tradeoff between prediction error and number of measurements needed compared to state-of-the-art data-driven predictors, i.e., requiring 80% less measurements for the same prediction accuracy, or reduces the relative error by 17% for the same number of measurements. Second, we leverage two types of real-world LTE RSRP datasets to evaluate into the performance of different prediction methods: (i) a small but dense Campus dataset, collected on a university campus and (ii) several large but sparser NYC and LA datasets, provided by a mobile data analytics company.
  4. Although advertising is a popular strategy for mobile app monetization, it is often desirable to block ads in order to improve usability, performance, privacy, and security. In this paper, we propose NoMoAds to block ads served by any app on a mobile device. NoMoAds leverages the network interface as a universal vantage point: it can intercept, inspect, and block outgoing packets from all apps on a mobile device. NoMoAds extracts features from packet headers and/or payload to train machine learning classifiers for detecting ad requests. To evaluate NoMoAds, we collect and label a new dataset using both EasyList and manually created rules. We show that NoMoAds is effective: it achieves an F-score of up to 97.8% and performs well when deployed in the wild. Furthermore, NoMoAds is able to detect mobile ads that are missed by EasyList (more than one-third of ads in our dataset). We also show that NoMoAds is efficient: it performs ad classification on a per-packet basis in real-time. To the best of our knowledge, NoMoAds is the first mobile ad-blocker to effectively and efficiently block ads served across all apps using a machine learning approach.
  5. Mobile devices have access to personal, potentially sensitive data, and there is a growing number of mobile apps that have access to it and often transmit this personally identifiable information (PII) over the network. In this paper, we present an approach for detecting such PII “leaks” in network packets going out of the device, by first monitoring network packets on the device itself and then applying classifiers that can predict with high accuracy whether a packet contains a PII leak and of which type. We evaluate the performance of our classifiers using datasets that we collected and analyzed from scratch. We also report preliminary results that show that collaboration among users can further improve classification accuracy, thus motivating crowdsourcing and/or distributed learning of privacy leaks.