Research

The Internet Analytics Group

The rapid evolution of mobile systems and the increasing availability of cheap, fast and portable computing devices has given birth to a rich ecosystem of applications and services that changed the way billions of users communicate all over the world. The fast adoption of such technologies has also surfaced new performance bottlenecks, as well as privacy and security threats unseen in previous networked technologies.

My research is particularly focused on conducting analytical measurements of real-world networked systems, with a strong interest in understanding the performance, privacy and security challenges present in emerging mobile technologies such as mobile networks, mobile apps and IoT. I engage and collaborate with users, cyber-activists, industry and regulators to identify and address practical problems of societal, industrial and academic interest from a practical angle.

Typically, one of the limiting factors when investigating modern mobile systems and emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) is the lack of access to data. To overcome this limitation, my research team develops practical tools to assist the different stakeholders to understand how devices, networks, services and applications interconnect, perform and behave behind the scenes.

Ongoing Projects

The list below summarizes my main research projects:

  • Haystack Project: As the Internet becomes increasingly personalized and ubiquitous, millions of users become vulnerable to security and privacy violations inflicted by the many parties conforming the mobile ecosystem. Unfortunately, most users remain in the dark about such practices and their associated consequences. The Haystack project aims to promote mobile transparency and illuminate unknown performance, privacy and security aspects of mobile apps using cuting-edge on-device measurements. The project is sponsored by the NSF and DataTransparencyLabs.
  • The oline tracking ecosystem: from the web browser to the mobile app. In this project, we analyze the different players involved in cross-platform tracking and their tracking techniques, developing solutions to promote online transparency, user control and awareness.
  • Ad-blockers vs. the advertising industry: Users increasingly rely on ad-blockers for improving their web experience or to protect their online privacy. However, this trend causes important economic damages to the online advertising industry. How do ad networks react to protect their revenue streams? (paper)
  • Security and privacy analysis of the Android VPN ecosystem. Millions of users all over the world use VPN apps and VPN services to access geo-filtered content, to avoid surveillance or for privacy enhancement. However, are VPN apps trustworthy? (paper)
  • Mobile web performance optimization: In this project, we develop novel techniques for identifying and improving the performance of networked mobile apps.
  • Netalyzr: A network troubleshooting tool and measurements platform running since 2010!

Besides the aforementioned research themes, I have explored other spaces such as the role of contextual information in user-smartphone interaction, the energy cost of mobile apps, social network analysis, and in collaboration with Telefonica, we proposed unorthodox solutions to opportunistically increase the capacity of wired networks with spare capacity of cellular networks both in rural and urban areas.

Awards and Honors

  • 2016. DataTransparencyLab Grant
  • 2015. Best paper award. ACM HotMiddlebox
  • 2015. Selected to attend NSF NeTS Early Career Workshop
  • 2014. Best short-paper award. ACM CoNEXT
  • 2013. Nominated for best paper award. ACM CoNEXT
  • 2012. Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship