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Yan Long receives dissertation award in the area of hardware security

Long’s efforts to protect cyber-physical systems from security breaches has led to industry improvements in embedded camera design.
Yan Long presented with the award at HOST 2024
Mengmei Ye, IBM Research, presents the award to Yan Long at HOST 2024

Yan Long (PhD ECE 2024, exp) was honored with a dissertation award at the 2024 IEEE International Symposium on Hardware Oriented Security and Trust (HOST) for research that aims to protect cyber-physical systems (CPS) from unintended security breaches.

More specifically, his research is focused on achieving trustworthy and privacy-preserving sensing in critical infrastructures and user-device interactions by protecting cyber-physical systems (CPS) from undefined side-channel behaviors of sensor hardware. 

“For example,” added Long, “my research shows how increasingly more capable and complex camera sensor hardware can leak not only sensitive optical information, such as screen contents during Zoom meetings, but it can also leak room audio modulated in pixels, and even act as unintentional radio antennas that unwittingly send confidential camera videos to adversaries over the air.”

“Furthermore, side channels in analog sensing circuits allow adversaries to contactlessly inject phantom keyboard inputs into computer systems and trigger temperature sensors in vaccine temperature monitors to falsely see higher or lower temperatures, leading to vaccine safety issues.”

His research has been reported by media outlets in several languages and motivated the industry to improve the design of embedded camera devices.

Long received a U-M Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship in 2023, and was selected as a CPS Rising Star at the 2024 Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) Rising Stars Workshop. He has served as a program committee member of several top computer security journals and conferences, including USENIX Security 2024. 

Long’s dissertation is titled, “Modeling and Mitigating Side Channels in Optical and Embedded Sensing Systems.” He was co-advised by former U-M professor Kevin Fu and Prof. Mingyan Liu, and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Northeastern University, working with Prof. Fu.