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DSU students present papers at Hawaii conferences via Zoom

May 22, 2020

Two Dakota State doctoral students presented papers via Zoom at the 4th International Conference on Information System & Data Mining and the 3rd International Conference on Knowledge Management Systems.

Dustin Steinhagen, a doctoral student in cyber defense, presented a paper titled “An Inventory of Existing Neuroprivacy Controls.”

“My inspiration for this paper was to discover and document, for the first time, what is known about the whole range of defensive measures for protecting the privacy of the brain, referred to as neuroprivacy in the literature,” Steinhagen explained.

Much of this research has focused on brain-computer interfaces, which are used in areas from medicine to video games, Steinhagen said. Researchers have demonstrated that an attacker could extract personal information, such as geolocation or payment information, directly from the person’s brain when utilizing these devices, he added.

Primary research indicated that most controls proposed by researchers have yet to be implemented in the real world, indicating a gap between theory and practice, Steinhagen said. As research continues, a library of theoretical privacy controls for the brain will be created.

“I hope the paper will catalyze research into brain privacy protection and raise awareness about what the techniques for human exploitation will look like heading into the future,” he said. “This research made it clear as to current defensive gaps, and can act as a catalog for researchers to take on projects that will be necessary for us to defend ourselves as we bring our brains online.”

Charles Begian, an online doctoral student in offensive cyber operations currently living in Florida, presented a paper titled “Analysis of Fuel Pump Skimming Devices.”

Begian’s project was inspired by a reverse engineering class he took at DSU, and a local news story about fuel pump skimmers.

“I went down to our local sheriff’s office to see if they would give me one of the skimmers to reverse engineer,” Begian said. “What I initially intended to be a side project to satisfy my curiosity turned out to be a full research project. Law enforcement asked me to help research the devices. They provided me with two skimmers which had been found installed inside fuel pumps in my county.”

Through his research, Begian learned that the devices are easy for criminals to get and hard for law enforcement to detect. The criminals download the skimmed credit card numbers wirelessly, leaving little risk of being detected. However, there are security vulnerabilities which law enforcement can exploit to detect the skimmers and catch the operators.

Continued research will help identify cyber vulnerabilities in the skimmer devices, which will lead to countermeasures designed to exploit those vulnerabilities, Begian explained.

“This will enable fuel station owners to protect their electronic transactions, customers to protect their account information, and law enforcement to make arrests,” he said.

Dr. Houssain Kettani, professor of computer science in The Beacom College of Computer & Cyber Sciences, is a contributing author to both papers.

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