Protecting People Against Surveillance & Fraud

by on August 1, 2009 at 8:10 am

During my recent trip to Cambridge, I ran across Steven Murdoch, who is a post-doctoral researcher and developer at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory and is working on the Tor Project, which is free software and an open network built to help protect people against surveillance.


The Tor Project is being used today by human rights workers, journalists, bloggers, law enforcement, and ordinary people.

Tor also helps resist censorship, allowing people to access websites which are being blocked, and protect themselves when publishing sensitive material. I am working on how to improve the performance and usability of the Tor.

Another project Steven has been working on is around banking security.

Since 2006, the UK has moved to using smartcards for credit and debit cards — so called Chip & PIN. While in many ways this is an improvement of security over the older system, there are a growing number of fraud victims who are not being refunded by their bank.

The banks claim that Chip & PIN is secure, and so anyone who states that they are the victim of card fraud is either mistaken, lying, or has been negligent.

Steven’s research evaluates the security of the Chip & PIN system and, along with a team, they have been able to show that there are numerous security vulnerabilities which can (and sometimes have) been exploited by fraudsters.

Further information on the banking security work can be found here.