Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in Wearable Device Security and Privacy.


Security, Privacy, Trust and Ethics in Computing Research Lab (SPriTE Lab) at Wichita State University (WSU) announces a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program which will provide WSU undergraduate students an opportunity to conduct research in the area of wearable device security and privacy. This program is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).



The Security, Privacy, Trust and Ethics in Computing Research Lab (SPriTE Lab) at Wichita State University announces an NSF-funded program for undergraduate students interested in cybersecurity and privacy research, with a special focus on cybersecurity and privacy of wearable and mobile devices (such as, smart watches, smart glasses, fitness trackers, etc.). By means of this program, undergraduate students will be primarily trained on two fronts: 1) programming/coding in new and upcoming mobile and wearable device application development framework such as Android Wear, and 2) methodologies and techniques for determining new cybersecurity and privacy vulnerabilities due to these devices, and designing and evaluating effective protection mechanisms for the same. The undergraduate students selected for this program will work on independent research projects under the supervision of the PI and EECS faculty, Dr. Murtuza Jadliwala, and will also be mentored by PhD student researchers within SPriTE Lab and other project participants and faculty mentors. This program requires at least a one year commitment from undergraduate students and will span the summer 2016, fall 2016 and spring 2017 semesters. For the duration of the program, REU students will regularly meet with the PI and other project participants in order to outline and update project goals and to discuss project progress and outcomes. In addition to this, students will also enroll in cybersecurity and privacy courses offered by the PI, participate in a weekly or bi-weekly research seminar series conducted by the PI’s research group, and other professional development activities. At the end of each semester, the participating undergraduate students will showcase their research results by means of presentations and posters at appropriate local and national conferences and events.


Students’ REU research projects will focus on one of the following three major themes:

1.    Novel techniques to exploit side-channel security and privacy vulnerabilities in wearable devices.

2.    Design and implementation of context-aware protection mechanisms against side-channel security and privacy vulnerabilities due to wearable devices.

3.    Novel application of wearable devices to improve and enhance the cybersecurity of wearers.

Although each REU student will be involved in a separate research project and will be working within their own research team comprising of faculty mentors and graduate students, they will come together regularly for research seminars and discussions which will give them an opportunity to participate in the projects of other REU participants.



Wearable mobile cyber-physical systems or wearable devices, such as smart watches and smart health monitors, enhance the intended functionality of the actual physical device and enable novel non-traditional cyber-enabled applications by capturing fine-grained and rich contextual information about the wearer and his environment using various high-precision on-board sensors. Besides enabling novel applications, the rich and diverse set of on-board sensors capture a continuous stream of wearer-specific contextual data, thus providing an additional attack surface to the malicious software and services on these devices. On the one hand, access to physical signals and sensor data on wearable devices, if not controlled appropriately, can be used as side-channels to infer sensitive user-data. On the other hand, as access to this sensor data is required to enable many other useful context-based applications on these devices, active detection and resistance of misuse of this data is not trivial. As we embrace this new technology in our everyday lives, it is imperative to take a closer look, and examine in greater detail, how wearable devices impact the cybersecurity and privacy of wearers and how to protect against such intrusions on our privacy. Addressing these complex and non-trivial challenges will require an interdisciplinary approach that will span the areas of cybersecurity, mobile and wearable system programming, machine learning and human computer interaction.





Each undergraduate student selected for this program will work with the PI Dr. Jadliwala’s research group which includes other faculty mentors and graduate students. After students are selected, they will be presented with multiple research project descriptions, and they will have to provide their preference to the PI Dr. Jadliwala. Depending on the project selected by the students, they may work in separate research teams. Students will not only be mentored on the technical skills and research methodologies required to complete their projects, but they will also be trained on technical research writing and delivering research presentations. Students will be expected to work with their project teams to publish and present their research results at reputed conferences and workshops in the area of cybersecurity and privacy.





This REU program is a three semester program beginning in the summer 2016 semester and continues through Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters. In order to participate in this program, a continuous commitment for all the three semesters is required. Program participants will be required to commit at least 20 hours/week for the various program-related activities for the entire duration of the program. Participants are expected to attend all project research meetings, program seminars and events, and complete all project-related assignments in a timely fashion. In addition to this, participants must work towards enrolling in at least one of the cybersecurity-related courses offered by the PI (CS 766 – Information Assurance & Security or CS 767 – Foundations of Network Security). The participant must work towards completing the Engineer of 2020 requirement (if the participant is an Engineering major) by means of the research project completed as a part of this program. Each participating student will receive a stipend/scholarship of approximately $2000 for summer 2016, $4000 for Fall 2016 and $4000 for Spring 2017 semesters. Receipt of full stipend/scholarship each semester, as well as continuation of support, is contingent upon satisfactory completion of the program requirements and expectations as determined by the PI Dr. Jadliwala. In addition to the above, the participating student will be provided with a research device (e.g., smartwatch or any other preferred wearable device) to enable proof-of-concept implementation and prototyping as required by the student’s research project. Each participating student will also be provided financial support for attending one domestic cybersecurity/privacy research conference in order to present the results of their research project.





Undergraduate students with a junior or senior standing and majoring in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering or any other information science/technology-related discipline, are encouraged to apply.  Participants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.  All coursework must be current and complete. Students can apply by sending the following application materials by email to Dr. Murtuza Jadliwala at the address, with the subject line “REU application”. 


You will need to email the following items:

-Transcripts:  Your current transcript (an unofficial copy is okay), clearly showing your current GPA (out of 4.0).

-Personal Statement, summarizing your current background and interests, why you are interested in working in the area of cybersecurity/privacy and how participating in this program will further your career.

-Names and contact information of at least two references (preferably, from faculty members or previous instructors. At most one reference from a previous/current work supervisor will be acceptable).

-Expected graduation date (please note: If you are planning on graduating before May 2017, you are not eligible to apply).

-Your email address and preferred contact information.


The application deadline is APRIL 15, 2016. Please note that no applications will be entertained beyond the application deadline. If your application is selected for further consideration, you will be invited for a short interview. Final notifications of acceptance/rejection of applications will be sent out by April 20, 2016. If you need additional information, please contact Dr. Murtuza Jadliwala at or (316) 978-3729.