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Electronic personal assistants on the test bench: new EU project for more secure mobile phones

It's been a long time since mobile phones were only used as phones. Banking transactions are carried out, parking tickets bought and music consumed - all on mobile phones. But the variety of applications also means increased security risks for users. To protect confidential data and thus to continue to safeguard privacy, the SEPIA (Secure, Embedded Platform with advanced process Isolation and Anonymity capabilities) EU project has been established. Appropriately for the launch of the project, the Federal Ministry of Science and Research (BMWF) described project co-ordinator Kurt Dietrich of Graz University of Technology as an "Austrian champion in European research".

More and more people are using mobile phones for an increasing number of purposes and the cell phone has long become a personal electronic assistant for all occasions. "People play games on the mobile, buy concert tickets, and use it as a key for access control. Data is stored at every step to allow activities to be assigned to particular phones and thus to specific people", explained Kurt Dietrich of the Institute of Applied Information Processing and Communication Technology (IAIK) of Graz University of Technology. It's especially difficult to protect the privacy of individual persons. "When a person executes an access control using a mobile, it is enough to know that the person has permission to enter the building. More information about that person and his or her further activities are not required and should remain confidential", adds the scientific co-ordinator of the newly launched SEPIA EU project, outlining the area of application.

Preserving anonymity

In the framework of SEPIA, Graz University of Technology researchers in co-operation with leading companies in the field are aiming to increase security for future generations of mobile phones. "Confidential data protection is number one priority at all development levels - from design to the finished product", says Dietrich. Focus of the research at IAIK is on anonymity-preserving processes. Furthermore, the researchers want to develop new security mechanisms for mobile phone processors of the future. Even the launch of the project was crowned with one success - the Ministry of Science and Research paid tribute to Dietrich at the end of June together with other project co-ordinators in the 7th EU Research Framework Programme as an "Austrian champion in European research."

EU Project SEPIA Start: June 2010 Duration: 3 years Partners: ARM Limited, Giesecke & Devrient, Infineon Technologies, BrightSight

Enquiries: Dipl.-Ing. Kurt Dietrich Institute of Applied Information Processing and Communication Technology E-mail: <Kurt.Dietrich@iaik.tugraz.at> Tel.: +43 (0) 316 873 5511 Cell: +43 (0) 650 25 31 494

idw :: 04.08.2010