ACE Seminar: Trust, but verify: why and how to establish trust in embedded devices

Speaker: Prof Aurélien Francillon

Date/Time: 03-Mar-2016, 16:00 UTC

Venue: Roberts 110



A lot of research efforts have been put into constructing secure embedded systems.

However, experience has shown that, while there are many products which have a good level of security, others are really insecure.

Some devices are security devices ("smartcard") while other are not (connected fridge).

We nevertheless often rely on the their security in our daily life, and their failure can have serious consequences.

In this talk, we discuss why we are in this situation and what we can do to improve the situation. 

In particular, we defend the thesis that more transparency and more openness in embedded systems hardware and software will foster a more secure ecosystem. 

We discuss the economic aspects of the problem, argue that trust is something that is not blindly granted but that is earned by verifying it.

We also argue that devices owners should eventually be in control of their devices.

Systems needs to be designed for this, we call this Design For User Trust. 

Finally, one can only trust a system if he can inspect it, we call this Design For Security Testing.

Finally, we argue that to have a real effect on the devices that will be built in the future, we need more research to be done to make it easier to build secure systems.

Concrete architectures needs to be proposed for Design For User Trust and Design For Security Testing, the challenges will be in finding how to increase trust Design For User Trust and Design For Security Testing without reducing the security of the systems themselves.


Aurélien Francillon is an assistant professor in the Networking and Security department at EURECOM, where he is co-heading the System and Software Security group (

Before this he received PhD degree in 2009 from INRIA and Grenoble INP, then, he was a postdoctoral researcher in the System Security Group at ETH Zurich.

He is mainly interested in practical aspects of the security of embedded devices.  In this context he has worked on topics such as code injection, code attestation, random number generation, hardware support for software security, bug finding techniques as well as on broader security and privacy topics.

He served in many program committees and was program co-chair of CARDIS 2013 and Usenix WOOT2015.

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