By Adrienne Sylver
Eminent Scholar Chaired Associate Professor Selcuk Uluagac's research group has won the 2021 Google Android Security and Privacy Research (ASPIRE) Award for the team's ongoing work to improve the security and privacy of Android devices.
Uluagac is director of the Cyber-Physical Systems Security Lab at FIU’s College of Engineering & Computing. He leads a team of researchers who range from undergraduate to graduate students and post-doc researchers; he has an additional courtesy appointment in the Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Science. Uluagac and two of the postdoctoral researchers in his group, Ahmet Aris and Abbas Acar, are currently leading this effort.
“The award speaks to the quality of our research conducted at FIU,” Uluagac said. “It’s based on the excellence of our research faculty, postdoctoral researchers, the students, our facilities and, ultimately, the result of our research.”
Google initiated its ASPIRE program in 2018 to encourage the development of new security and privacy tools in the fight to deter the hacking of vulnerable devices. Current and past winners include Purdue University and UC Irvine.
“As the use of smart devices continues to expand, many people are using devices that are unprotected or unpatched,” Uluagac said. “Sometimes they are at risk because the user has never installed a system update, other times it’s because the device they are using is older and no longer supported by the manufacturer, so updates are no longer available.”
Smart devices include such things as phones, thermostats, lighting systems, watches, voice assistants, cars and even entire cities ― basically any object that collects and exchanges information. The devices are at risk for cyberattacks and for the leaking of sensitive information.
“Smart devices are being used more widely in homes and offices, as well as in most industries — from banking to health care to hospitality to manufacturing and transportation,” Aris said. “The security and privacy of these devices are of utmost importance.”
A recognized expert in cybersecurity and privacy, Uluagac has published hundreds of papers in peer-reviewed journals. One of his current projects, SPARTAN (Security and Privacy Analyzer foR UnpaTched Android Devices), which is exploring the better identification of devices at risk and raising awareness of the problem, has caught the attention of Google.
In the Cyber-Physical Systems Security Lab at FIU, students have access to the newest technologies from IoT to smart things so that they gain the experience necessary to further their research or be a valuable hire when they enter the job market.
Uluagac added, “These successful research results cannot be achieved without the dedicated work of his postdoctoral researchers and students.” (His research group is pictured above.)
Uluagac earned his Ph.D. with a concentration in security from The Georgia Institute of Technology and a master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University. He has received a number of awards for his research as well as his teaching and serves on the editorial boards of top-tier security conferences and journals, including Usenix Security Symposium, NDSS, the IEEE Communications and Surveys and Tutorials, IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, and Elsevier Computer Networks Journal.