UW News

Tadayoshi Kohno


August 16, 2017

Computer scientists use music to covertly track body movements, activity

A person walking in a straight line.

Researchers at the University of Washington have demonstrated how it is possible to transform a smart device into a surveillance tool that can collect information about the body position and movements of the user, as well as other people in the device’s immediate vicinity. Their approach involves remotely hijacking smart devices to play music embedded with repeating pulses that track a person’s position, body movements, and activities both in the vicinity of the device as well as through walls.


August 10, 2017

DNA sequencing tools lack robust protections against cybersecurity risks

UW researchers have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to remotely compromise a computer using information stored in DNA. This test tube holds hundreds of billions of copies of the exploit code stored in synthetic DNA molecules, which has the potential to compromise a computer system when it is sequenced and processed.

A new UW study finds DNA sequencing tools lack robust cybersecurity protections. In a scientific first, the team also infected a computer with synthesized DNA molecules.


June 2, 2017

Catching the IMSI-catchers: SeaGlass brings transparency to cell phone surveillance

Image of suspicious cell site signal patterns

University of Washington security researchers have developed a new system called SeaGlass to detect anomalies in the cellular landscape that can indicate where and when cell phone surveillance devices are being used.


August 15, 2016

Unearthing trackers of the past: UW computer scientists reveal the history of third-party web tracking

security camera

At the USENIX Security Conference in Austin, Texas, a team of University of Washington researchers on Aug. 12 presented the first-ever comprehensive analysis of third-party web tracking across three decades and a new tool, TrackingExcavator, which they developed to extract and analyze tracking behaviors on a given web page. They saw a four-fold increase in third-party tracking on top sites from 1996 to 2016, and mapped the growing complexity of trackers stretching back decades.


November 3, 2015

Life, enhanced: UW professors study legal, social complexities of an augmented reality future

A mockup of an augmented reality mobile phone using a curved LED screen that renders augmented reality data for the wearer/user from cameras mounted on one or both sides.

A report from the interdisciplinary UW Tech Policy Lab on the challenges of augmented reality suggests such systems should be adaptable to change, resistant to hacking and responsive to the needs of diverse users.