IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Computing

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From the April-June 2017 issue

Exploiting Battery-Drain Vulnerabilities in Mobile Smart Devices

By Ugo Fiore, Aniello Castiglione, Alfredo De Santis, and Francesco Palmieri

Featured article thumbnail imageDifferently from attacks aimed at gaining control of the resources of a mobile device, energy-related attacks have the essential goal of significantly raising the energy demand on the victim side, without apparently affecting its activities. It is a fundamental point to highlight how such a goal can possibly be accomplished by mounting well-known canonical attacks and waiting for the system defenses to detect and stop them. In such an endeavor, defenses require additional amounts of energy which eventually render the mobile device completely useless. In the System on Chip (SoC) architecture, many components, each with a separate function, are integrated. As the total energy adsorption is the composition of the energy consumptions of individual components, each component may be the target of an energy-based attack. This work analyzes and discusses the effects and implication of new energy-based Denial of Service attacks based on the proper solicitation of hardware-layer encode/decode capabilities by using specifically crafted multi-media resources, in order to introduce an anomalous battery drain, and hence significantly shorten the overall battery lifetime in mobile smart devices. These attacks do not require physical access nor compromise of the target device, and they take advantage of new HTML5 functionalities that can be properly triggered during normal browsing activity. The more significant result is that the Digital Signal Processor (DSP) offers an exploitable attack surface to be kept into consideration early in the design process. Countermeasures include special filtering rules that prevent “irrelevant” content from reaching the DSP or, in a more far-reached perspective, the introduction of a power-draw controller on the SoC with the purpose of monitoring energy consumption and raising alerts.

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Editorials and Announcements


  • Congratulations to Albert Zomaya on his appointment as 2016-2018 Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Computing. Dr. Zomaya is currently the Chair Professor of High Performance Computing & Networking and Director of the Centre for Distributed and High Performance Computing in the School of Information Technologies, The University of Sydney.


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Call for Papers

Special Issue on Cryptography and Data Security in Sustainable Computing

Extended Submission deadline: September 1, 2017. View PDF.

With the proliferation of several kinds of attacks towards ICT infrastructures and the relative effects caused by a successful compromise of them, data security is of pivotal importance in our current society. As a practical example, health-related data are rapidly being digitalised passing from paper-based communications among patients and physicians to computer-based ones. However, the occurrence of data leakage is increasing, with the consequence of stealing sensitive personal information from the leaked health-related data. To protect the ICT infrastructures from these attacks, several solutions have been proposed, where cryptography plays a key role. Despite being able to provide a suitable degree of security and privacy, such solutions have not been designed by taking care of their energy consumption and resource usage. Therefore, they are not optimal in the case of resource-constrained systems, such as sensor networks, and are under radical rethinking in order to be effectively adopted in such context. Moreover, the recent increasing attention to climate changes and environmental issues are leading a considerable debate on how changing the current computing technologies so as to have less severe effects on the global warming and resource usage. Such a debate involves also the current cryptosystems and the other widely-accepted solutions to provide data security, so as to modify them by considering their sustainability.

The aim of the special issue is to solicit novel contributions to the current debate of realizing sustainable solutions to support data security and to realize cryptosystems to protect the data at rest and in motion within the current ICT infrastructures, by also seeking practical experiences in using these solutions in concrete use cases of Green Computing and Resource-Constrained Systems.

Special Issue on Smart Data and Deep Learning in Sustainable Computing

Submission deadline: September 1, 2017. View PDF.

We are living in a data-driven era in which numerous infrastructure can be connected and the interconnected systems can perform “smart” when the large pool of the data are well utilized. Finding the way of well utilizing the large volume of data has an urgent demand in multiple realms, including academics, industries, and education. The force behind the data can be pushed out from a variety of data-driven techniques, such as machine learning and deep learning, which is a great potential for generating successful model, framework, and method for achieving sustainable computing. Therefore, gathering recent achievements in smart data and deep learning in sustainable computing is meaningful and valuable for powering the capability of data-driven domain and the various applications, implementations, and innovations in different disciplines and fields.

This special issue focuses on two aspects considering the perspective of sustainable computing, which include smart data and deep learning. The smart data covers all dimensions of data usage lifecycles, such as data selections and collections, data preprocessing, data mining, and data analytics, in various application scenarios. The other aspect, deep learning, emphasizes the intelligent performance of applying data-driven techniques in practices and research explorations. Thus, this special issue aims at collecting updated outstanding papers that illustrate the latest achievements and development updates concerning the smart data and deep learning solutions, issues, applications, trends, and implementations in sustainable computing.

Special Issue on Sustainable Cyber Forensics and Threat Intelligence

Submission deadline: September 1, 2017. View PDF.

Increasing societal reliance on interconnected digital systems, including smart grids and Internet of Things (IoT), made sustainable detection and investigation of threat actors among highest priorities of any society. Scale and attack surface of modern networks mandate optimized deployment of limited cyber forensics and threat intelligence resources to detect and remove malicious actors in a timely manner. However, timely dealing with such a huge number of attacks is not possible without employment of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques. When a significant amount of data is collected from or generated by different security monitoring solutions; intelligent big-data analytical techniques are necessary to mine, interpret and extract knowledge out of those data. The emerging field of cyber threat intelligence is investigating applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to perceive, reason, learn and act intelligently against advanced cyber attacks.

Special Issue on Energy Efficiency of New Architectures and Systems

Submission deadline: December 31, 2017. View PDF.

Over the last decade, worldwide server energy consumptions have been increasing exponentially. With this continuing energy consumption in Big Data and cloud computing era, it is necessary to store and process data more energy efficiently by utilizing enormous computing power that is available in the form of new architectures and systems, ranging from low power ARM64 servers to light weighted containerization systems. By taking advantage of these new architectures and systems, system designers can incorporate novel energy-efficient policies for existing installations and applications. However, these new architectures and systems are posing many challenges in exploiting their potentials in energy reductions, such as hardware and software co-design and coordination, application specific automated energy efficiency characterization and profiling, novel programming models, etc. These challenges are becoming the bottlenecks for implementation, deployment and commercial adoptions of new architectures and systems. These new architectures and systems also come up with algorithmic and engineering issues such as performance aspects not yet eminent but expected to grow with their scaling of large installation systems, and the dynamics of its energy management. These new challenges may comprise, sometimes even deteriorate the performance, efficiency, and scalability of the dedicated applications.

This special issue focuses on the energy efficiency challenges imposed by new architectures and systems, and on the state-of-the-art designs and solutions proposed to overcome these challenges. In this special issue we solicit the contributions from the sustainable and green computing community and the system architecture community on the modeling, evaluation, and implementation, of new architectures and systems.

Special Issue on Sustainable Information Security and Forensic Computing

Submission deadline: May 1, 2018. View PDF.

Modern societies are becoming increasingly reliance on inter-connected digital systems, where commercial activities and government services are delivered. Despite the benefits, it is impossible to overstate the importance of information security and forensics in a highly inter-connected system. To address security threats to network infrastructure devices and sensitive data, many different solutions capable of providing a suitable degree of security and forensic capability have been proposed. However, such solutions have not been properly designed to address important aspects such as computational costs, scalability, energy efficiency and resource usage. This special issue thus focuses on practical aspects of information security and forensics in sustainable computing. We solicit original contributions on novel threats, defences and security, information, tools, and digital forensics applications in sustainable computing. We also seek contributions motivated by taking real-world security and forensic problems and theoretical works that have clear intention for practical applications.

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