Aggelos Kiayias
Aggelos Kiayias

Pivotal research unveiled at Financial Cryptography and Data Security 2017

Turing Prize recipient and industry pioneer Silvio Micali, Ethereum CEO Vitalik Buterin and IOHK CEO Charles Hoskinson were among the guests discussing important industry developments at the Financial Cryptography and Data Security 2017 in Malta last week. Research on blockchain, Bitcoin, data security and privacy as they relate to areas including finance, air travel and the internet were covered.

Aggelos Kiayias organized the event. The chair of cybersecurity and privacy at the University of Edinburgh and the director of its Blockchain Technology Laboratory, Professor Kiayias is also IOHK’s chief scientist.

“The conference is a unique opportunity for world leading researchers in cryptography, data security and privacy to come together,” Dr. Kiayias said. “The findings presented in the conference will influence best practices and contribute to new standards for cyber security in the information technology industry.”

Aggelos Kiayias
Aggelos Kiayias

The event focused on the security of vital systems and making sure they are safe from hacking. Its goal was to bring together security and cryptography researchers with economists, bankers, implementers and policy makers

Presented papers included the following:

  • How hackers can exploit a previously undiscovered vulnerability in aircraft communications and interfere with the control of airplanes by deciphering the signals sent between the plane and control towers. These findings have prompted conversations with authorities.
  • An evaluation of the cryptography of apps from the top 15 consumer banks. Security flaws in popular banking apps from the biggest UK banks make them an easy target for phishing and other attacks. With 11 million logins to UK banking apps each day, the findings from the researchers at the University of Birmingham highlight a need for banks to promptly undertake a thorough review of their security.
  • Researchers have combined principles of game theory with Bitcoin to create a system that vouches for individuals’ reputations so you know how much you can trust them. This reputation verification works without the need for the stars and reviews you see on centralized platforms.
  • The first decentralized voting system to ensure maximum privacy for voters by avoiding using a third party to count the votes and using a self-executing smart contract to do it instead. The execution of the protocol is enforced using the consensus mechanism that also secures the Ethereum blockchain.
  • How to buy physical goods using Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. In practice a third-party escrow service is used to offer the buyer and seller security over the transactions. But there are privacy and security issues with this. These new ideas offer a way around that.
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