Professors partner with ETRI to improve security in Android devices, establish mobile security lab

By Fran Broderick

Two RIT professors have recently received a funding from Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) in an effort to develop more effective protection against malware in Android devices. Professor Tom Oh, the principal investigator of the proposal to ETRI, and professor Bill Stackpole, co-PI, will be leading a team of RIT researchers that include professors and students.

The support stems from Oh and Stackpole’s initial research into malware in Android devices and novel concepts they presented for improving mobile security. “We chose to research Android in part because it’s open-source,” explains Stackpole. “So there was more data available to observe and analyze. During our initial analysis we found roughly 15% of Android devices running Google’s Jellybean platform presented with malware.”

The team submitted a report to ETRI, one of the most respected technical organizations in the world, demonstrating findings from their survey of Android devices and conceptual solutions for a cloud-based malware mitigation system for Android. In April, Oh traveled to Korea to present to ETRI in person and made a successful impression.

“They have made an initial grant of $35,000 to begin our work and will be sending one of their prominent researchers, Yung-Ho-Kim to collaborate,” says Oh. “We hope Dr. Kim will also be able to aid in training and increasing students’ knowledge base.” Ho-Kim will remain at RIT for a year in an effort to establish a mobile security lab in partnership between RIT and ETRI.

In a recent article in the intellectual property magazine IPToday, ETRI was ranked first in the 2012 Innovation Anchor Scorecard, which measures “patent activities by prestigious research institutions, universities, and governments around the world.”  ETRI’s work spans a variety of technologies and platforms. “In Korea, smartphone usage is far more advanced, and while a company like Samsung develops many of these products, they may not perform in-depth theoretical research associated with [the products],” says Stackpole. “For that, they can go to ETRI.”

The research and development partnership between the two institutions ultimately aims to deliver a cloud-based malware mitigation prototype within the next year.