Showing posts from December, 2014

2014 Retrospective ...

2014 has been an eventful year across many spheres of my academic life, complete with research published in major conferences and journals, PhD students graduating and new courses launched.  My final post for the year is a quick review of some of the highlights:

January: The year started with the news that two of the papers I co-authored and submitted to the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE 2014) had been accepted for publication.  Both of these papers were based on the work of my PhD students, one on privacy requirements engineering and the other on adaptive user interfaces.  It turned out to be a pretty successful year for OU research at ICSE overall.February: We got confirmation that the EPSRC would be funding our project, "MonetizeMe: Privacy and the Quantified Self in the Digital Economy", which would involve colleagues from the Faculty of Business and Law as well. The project formally started by late summer and I am looking forward to seeing this …

Cyber security careers

I am working on wrapping up the first presentation of Introduction to Cyber Security and preparing for the next presentation, which is now open for registration and will start on 26 January 2015.   The popularity of the first presentation demonstrates a recognition of the importance of cyber security.  Hopefully some of the 15,000+ learners who engaged with the course will be inspired to study further and perhaps even pursue a career in the field.  This is an important and exciting discipline to work in, with a variety of career paths depending on people's interests and aptitude.

The Open University provides a range of modules and qualifications that can support this journey, and I recently wrote a short article about some of the career options in cyber security which has now been published on OpenLearn.

REF 2014: Picking through the results

For the past two years, academics in UK universities have been preparing and then waiting for the results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), a quality audit of selected academic research undertaken during the period 2008-2013.  The results were finally published during the very early hours of 18 December, and there has been a flurry of activity as each university and department figures out how to interpret them in a way that reflects best on their performance.

At the OU, the Centre for Research in Computing was returned under the "Computer Science & Informatics" unit of assessment (UoA).  The research was produced by academics in the Department of Computing and Communications and the Knowledge Media Institute.  The REF 2014 panel's assessment was that 75% of our research outputs were 4* (world-leading) or 3* (internationally-excellent).  This is a good result, considering that our equivalent performance in the last assessment exercise, the RAE 2008, wa…

Deep Learning and Adaptive Sharing for Online Social Networking

Prompted by Facebook Research's recent announcement on using deep learning to help users avoid 'drunk posting' embarrassing information on the social networking platform, I wrote an article for The Conversation about deep learning and adaptive sharing.  This draws on our research on Adaptive Sharing for Online Social Networks, which was recognised as the Best Paper at the  13th IEEE International Conference on Trust, Security and Privacy in Computing and Communications (IEEE TrustCom-14).  The following is a short excerpt from the article:
Facebook’s initial target appears aimed at extending its face recognition capability to automatically differentiate between a user’s face when sober and drunk, and use this to get a user to think twice before hitting the post button. Of course being detected as being drunk in photographs won’t be the only factor that determines when we want to moderate our social media sharing behaviours. The nature of the links we share, like and commen…

Reviewing debut run of Introduction to Cyber Security MOOC

The debut presentation of Introduction to Cyber Security MOOC came to an end this week. This 8-week MOOC was developed with the support of the UK National Cyber Security Programme and has been certified as a awareness level cyber security course by the CESG Certified Training programme. Over the next few weeks I will be working with colleagues to review the lessons learned from this first run and making the necessary changes to ensure that the next presentation goes smoothly.

Some high-level numbers on the first presentation, as of the end of the Week 8 of the course, are as follows:

Registered Learners: 24,245Returning learners: 15,449Active Learners: 12,977 (~84%)Fully participated: 3,692 (~24%)
The percentages for active and fully participated learners has been calculated based on the number of returning learners rather than the total registrations.  'Active' means that a learner is still progressing through the content and marking activities as 'completed', whereas…

Privacy Distillation @ Best RESG Research 2014

Privacy Distilation for Mobile Applications from Arosha Bandara I had the opportunity to present our research on Privacy Distillation for Mobile Applications at the British Computer Society Requirements Engineering Specialist Group's Best of RESG Research 2014 event.  The slides above are based on those originally presented by Keerthi Thomas at ICSE 2014.

Some interesting questions were discussed following my presentation, including:
How does the distillation process cope with the overall mobile software eco-system?At the moment we have only considered the peer-to-peer information flows between the end users of the mobile application.  However, it should be possible to use the Privacy Facets Framework to consider the information, information flows and actors in the overall mobile software eco-system.  Of course some extensions will be required, for example to capture factors such the legal and regulatory aspects of privacy associated with the places in which in the information, inf…