Combatting Fake News Using Mobile Trusted Execution Environments (available)

Starting Date: Summer '21
Duration: 6 weeks
Time commitment: Full time
Prerequisites: Good programming skills in a high-level language, e.g. Python; C or C++; and Linux. Any experience with client-server architectures, systems programming, and/or mobile development experience will be beneficial.

The distribution of fake news – hoaxes, propaganda, and outright false articles – by pseudo-news outlets is a major issue. Fake news can undermine trust in legitimate sources of news and the integrity of the democratic process. Existing methods to combat this issue have significant shortcomings. Manual take-downs are slow and lack scalability, particularly if the source is located in an uncooperative jurisdiction. Meanwhile, automatic detection methods are imperfect and require tremendous expertise to produce acceptable false positive and false negative rates.

This project will develop a new method for mitigating fake news on mobile devices. It will explore using mobile trusted execution environments (TEEs) to build a secure credential store for authenticating online news. TEEs allow the secure execution of sensitive code and data, even if the native operating system, e.g. Android, is rooted or otherwise compromised. TEEs are a key component of modern mobile devices for providing secure mobile payments, biometrics, and digital rights management.

The aim of the project is to build a proof-of-concept client-server architecture that allows the secure downloading and verification of online news articles in a simulated environment. The ISG-SCC currently has access to ARM-based development boards with hardware used by major smartphone manufacturers. These boards will implement the client-side TEE system used to verify the authenticity of downloaded news.

Deliverables

  • A proof-of-concept implementation of a TEE-based credential store for verifying the authenticity of downloaded news.
  • A video demonstration and lab report that analyses the developed system.

ISG-SCC Track Record

The ISG’s Smart Card and IoT Security Centre (ISG-SCC) has successfully run the UROP for the last three years. These years have produced a patent application (under review by patent office), a commercial demo (MVP), and five research papers. Undergraduate students are named as first authors on the papers and co-inventors on any patent applications. Research papers by undergraduate students have won a ‘best student paper award’ and being pivotal for a World Economic Forum’s project for anti-corruption project. The ISG-SCC’s ethos is that undergraduate students have the talent and imagination to sought interesting, unique and innovative solutions. They just need a guiding hand from established researchers, and this is what ISG-SCC will provide during the UROP project.