A strong and vibrant IT community based in the North East Of England

Ambient Honeypots full of Jewellery

This month’s event was different from previous SuperMondays events for a few reasons, not just because of the fact that we held it on a Tuesday. This month we changed the venue, the format of the event and the topics of the speakers. We hope that you liked it!

During the first hour we were encouraged to walk around ‘Space 2’ of the Culture Lab to speak to various product designers about their research projects. This including presentations from Tom Martindale and his multitouch surface computer, John Dawson and his interactive computer application and Guy Schofield and the rapid prototyping facility that Lab uses.

The second part of the evening was in a more traditional lecture environment. The event was opened by Professor Atau Tanaka, the Chair of Digital Media and the Acting Director of Culture Lab. After a brief introduction to the facility, its place within the university and a synopsis of some of the work that is undertaken there Mr Tanaka passed over to Patrick Oliver.

Patrick described the Culture Lab as a place to research the interaction with computers in everyday life. Projects such as the ‘Ambient Kitchen’ push the bounds of pervasive computing and apply them to everyday tasks in a normal domestic kitchen.  The kitchen has many computers and sensors placed in the floor, walls and inside the appliances which collect data to be relayed to a collection of computers which analyse the data and provide feedback on a collection of displays around the room. The Ambient Kitchen is typical of several of the projects at the Culture Lab in that it captures the users motions and actions with a view to understanding what they are doing so that helpful prompts can be given if necessary. The work has many applications but it is most powerful when it’s applied to provide ambient assisted living for older people or people with dementia. The ultimate goal is to help people with everyday tasks such as making a cup of tea or preparing a meal.

Dr Jayne Wallace also introduced us to her work at the Culture Lab. Jayne is a digital artist with a background in contemporary jewellery. The core of her work considers how jewellery can act to play a role within what we each consider personally meaningful for us in our lives, in an emotional context, and how the expression of fragments of this can be enriched through the integration of digital technologies. Developments already exist in wearable electronics and digital product design that have taken the body as a location, but in many cases such digital objects miss many of the subtleties and inimitable qualities associated with jewellery. You can find more information on the work that Jayne undertakes here:
http://www.digitaljewellery.com/

Our final speaker of the evening was Andrew Waite who introduced us to the concept of ‘honeypotting with Nepenthes. Nepenthes is a low interaction honeypot which emulates several known vulnerabilities across multiple services and protocols. It’s ultimate goal is to capture live malware samples as the honeypot is being ‘exploited’.

A honeypot server should have no legitimate services installed upon it and as such it is assumed that all of the traffic that is targeted at it is considered malicious. Running a honeypot gives you an insight into how systems are being probed and as part of a broad IT security policy they can help you to secure your network against attacks. If the honeypot is placed externally, it can provide an early warning system for attacks. Placed internally they can help identify any internal infections.

Andrew has been running his honeypot for over a year and in that time it has had over 2000 recorded attacks with over 900 unique malware specimens, the first of which was recorded within 30 minutes of gaining a live network connection!

Andrew uses this data, in combination with server logs and intrusion detection software to help predict, prevent and secure his IT network. Doing so gives him a fully rounded understanding of his IT security needs. You can read more here:
http://infosanity.blogspot.com/2009/05/may-supermondays-presentation-aftermath.html

‘If you know your enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles’ - Sun Tzu

We are very grateful to Atau, Paul and Jane and all the staff at the Culture Lab for opening their facility for such an inspiring event. We would also like to thank Northern Film and Media for sponsoring the event. Finally, thank you to Shuoling Liu for all his hard work with the video recorder!

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