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John Atkinson

John Atkinson profile

PHD TITLE

Inferring User Behaviour Despite Wireless Network Encryption

FIRST DEGREE

MEng, Computer Systems & Software Engineering - The University of York

PREVIOUS JOBS

I worked as a software engineer for Sophos Plc., a large UK-based company which develops and sells computer security software (e.g. Antivirus, Firewall, Anti-spam). I was briefly employed as a research associate at the University of York, before beginning my PhD course at SECReT.

I'M ORIGINALLY FROM...

England, UK.

WHY I APPLIED TO THE SECURITY SCIENCE DTC

Security provides a challenge. I would greatly prefer to innovate and help drive security systems forward rather than, like other potential careers in this field, maintain the status quo. Aside from being interesting in its own right, the opportunity to consult with experts in usually inaccessible subject areas made the multi-disciplinary aspect of UCL's programme particularly appealing. A greater exchange of ideas between research disciplines can only be beneficial to my own ability as an engineer, and the development of security systems as a whole. 

RESEARCH INTERESTS

My research will focus on cyber security and privacy leaks from wireless communications (e.g. mobile phones and WiFi). I will investigate how increasingly commonplace technology can divulge a great amount of detail about user activities, even when the encryption is working 100% as designed. This enables development of technogies to prevent this when not wanted, as well as potentially useful applications in the field of digital forensics.

WHAT I DO WHEN I'M NOT STUDYING

I run, play squash and keyboard. I've dabbled in Open Source software, like Amarok, when my time hasn't been consumed by work-related projects. I ski and snowboard (badly) and love to travel.

MY CAREER ASPIRATIONS

Security is something which is often ignored for the sake of convenience. Similarly, when security precautions are implemented, they are often resented because of their inconvenience. This can easily be a bigger problem than designing the technical details of a security system. As an engineer, this is a problem I would like to help combat, be it within academia, industry or both.

WHAT KIND OF PARTNER ORGANISATION I'D LIKE TO WORK WITH AND WHAT I'D LIKE FROM THEM

My research is partially funded by SELEX Galileo, an international company whose primary focus is supplying and developing technology for the defence sector. However, this need not rule out collaboration with other interested parties, especially in the area of digital forensics.

LIST OF PUBLICATIONS

J.S. Atkinson, J.E. Mitchell, M. Rio and G. Matich. Your WiFi Is Leaking: Determining User Behaviour Despite Encryption. Proceedings of the London Communications Symposium (LCS) 2011. London, UK. September 2011.
J.S. Atkinson, O. Adetoye, J.E. Mitchell, M. Rio and G. Matich. Your WiFi is leaking: Inferring user behaviour, encryption irrelevant. Wireless Communications and Networking Conference (WCNC), 2013 IEEE, pp.1097-1102, 7-10 April 2013.

OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES & ACADEMIC WORK

Teaching Assistant for Multimedia Computing (COMP6008/GC14).
You may be interested to read a poster summarising my work into WiFi privacy leaks.
You may also be interested in my Bright Club comedy set about Security Research.

CONFERENCES ATTENDED

European Security Research Conference '10. Ostend, Belgium. September 2010.
UCL Security and Crime Research Network Conference 2010. London, UK. December 2010.
International Association of Forensic Sciences Conference. Madeira, Portugal. September 2011.
London Communications Symposium 2011. London, UK. September 2011.
London Cybersecurity Forum. London, UK. September 2011.
44CON Information Security Conference. London, UK. September 2012.
Wireless Communications and Networking Conference (WCNC), 2013. Shanghai, China. April 2013.
Cyberpatterns 2013. Oxford, UK. July 2013.