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Improving Technical Security 16 February 2018

Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NDSS

By Karen O'DonoghueFormer Director, Internet Trust and Technology

This year we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Network and Distributed System Security Symposium (NDSS). NDSS is a premier academic research conference addressing a wide range of topics associated with improving trust in the Internet and its connected devices. A key focus of the Internet Society has long been improving trust in the global open Internet. In order to promote this trust, we need new and innovative ideas and research on the security and privacy of our connected devices and the Internet that connects them together.

NDSS 2018 is about to get underway in San Diego, CA (18-21 February). It will be the biggest NDSS symposium yet, featuring 71 peer-reviewed papers, 20 posters, 4 workshops, 2 keynotes, and a co-located research group meeting. Record registration numbers are a key indicator that NDSS 2018 is featuring vital and timely topics. Below are some of the highlights expected in the coming week.


This year’s program officially starts with four workshops on Sunday, 18 February. NDSS workshops are organized around a single topic and provide an opportunity for greater dialogue amongst researchers and practitioners in the area. Each of this year’s workshop have dynamic agendas.

The Workshop on Binary Analysis Research (BAR) is a new workshop topic for NDSS this year. Binary analysis refers to the process where humans and automated systems examine underlying code in software to discover, exploit, and defend against vulnerabilities. With the enormous and ever-increasing amount of software in the word today, formalized and automated methods of analysis are vital to improving security. This workshop will include a number of peer-reviewed papers and a panel discussion.

The Workshop on Decentralized IoT Security and Standards (DISS) is also new to NDSS this year. We are surrounded every day with the excitement and seemingly endless potential of the Internet of Things (IoT). The success of IoT depends significantly on solving the underlying security and privacy challenges. Following the spirit of NDSS, the goal of this workshop is to bring together researchers and practitioners to analyze and discuss decentralized security in the IoT, especially in the light of ongoing standardisation work and wider systems interoperability.

The Workshop on DNS Privacy (DNSPRIV) is in its second year at NDSS and will focus on increasing usability and decreasing traceability in the Domain Name System (DNS) infrastructure. DNS Privacy has been a growing concern of the IETF and others in the Internet engineering community for the last few years. Almost every activity on the Internet starts with a DNS query (and often several). The goal of this workshop is to bring together privacy and Internet researchers with a diversity of backgrounds and views, to identify promising long-term mitigations of the broad space of DNS privacy risks. This workshop, along with the DISS workshop, both have active participation from the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) community resulting in collaboration between academics and the engineers developing the standards.

Finally, the Workshop on Usable Security (USEC 2018) is one of the original NDSS workshops and is occurring at NDSS for the fifth consecutive year. It has long been established that ensuring effective security and privacy in real-world technology requires considering technical as well as human aspects. USEC 2018 fosters a multi-disciplinary approach to all aspects of human factors including adoption and usability in the context of security and privacy. Also notable about the USEC 2018 workshop is that it encourages papers that replicate previous results for validation purposes or document failed experiments to highlight the lessons learned. Finally, in another first for NDSS, USEC 2018 and DNSPRIV will have one joint session to discuss usability in the context of DNS.


Moving beyond the workshops, NDSS will also feature two excellent keynotes this year. On Monday morning, Ari Juels of Cornell University will kick off NDSS 2018 with a talk entitled “Beyond Smarts: Toward Correct, Private, Data-Rich Smart Contracts”. In this keynote, Ari will explore smart contracts, blockchains, secure off-chain data feeds or oracles, and much more. Check back after NDSS for a video recording of what will undoubtedly be an educational keynote.

On Wednesday morning, Parisa Tabriz of Google, Inc. will talk about “The Long Winding Road from Idea to Impact in Web Security”. In this keynote, she will share stories of multi-year initiatives that have made Chrome and the open web platform safer. She will talk about securing Flash content, the push to drive HTTPS adoption, and a 5+ year refactoring project to help mitigate speculative cpu vulnerabilities. She will focus on some of the practical constraints and lessons learned for others to consider when trying to improve security of large, complex, real-world systems.

NDSS Programme

The main content of NDSS 2018 is of course the set of papers to be presented and published. This year there are 71 peer-reviewed papers organized into 17 sessions, representing around 20% of the original submissions. Topics are wide-ranging and include authentication, cryptography, privacy, android, blockchain, cloud, and web security. This year, the Internet Society has reinforced its commitment to open access of information by updating the publishing policy for NDSS. Copyright of all papers remains with the authors. Papers, slides, and videos of all the talks will eventually be available on the NDSS 2018 programme page.

The final program component of NDSS 2018 is the Monday night Poster Session and Reception. This session will feature 20 posters of recently published or newly emerging research. Attendees will have a chance to vote for their favorite posters with special prizes being awarded in different categories.

Finally, on the Saturday before NDSS there will be an interim meeting of a proposed Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) research group on Decentralized Internet Infrastructure. The organizers of this meeting opted to use the fact that many of them will be in town for NDSS to co-locate their meeting as well. This group is in the formative stages so now is an excellent time to engage. The agenda looks interesting so if you are in San Diego early, drop on by the Rousseau room.

To wrap up this rather long blog post, I would like to say that the Internet Society is proud to have been associated with NDSS for over 20 years, and we are excited to see the results of this year’s event! Happy 25th to all those in the NDSS community!

You can still register onsite if you’d like to join us in person in San Diego, or you can follow along via our social media channels – Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or search/post using #NDSS18. Now, I’m off to catch my flight. See you in San Diego!

Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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