David Lie

Canada Research Chair in Secure and Reliable Computer Systems

Tier 2 - 2012-10-01
University of Toronto
Natural Sciences and Engineering


Research involves

Making our computing infrastructure more secure, including through security for smartphones, cloud computing and big data.

Research relevance

The goal of this research is to make Internet use via modern computer devices—such as smartphones and the cloud—safer for all users.

Secure System Software for Smartphones

Smartphones are not only the fastest-growing consumer device in history, but they also pose one of the biggest-ever threats to consumer security and privacy.

The devices have revolutionized business and social life by allowing information to move seamlessly. However, this movement of information has a dark side; the portability that makes smartphones popular also makes them prone to theft, and their constantly connected nature makes it easier for sensitive information to be unintentionally shared.

Smartphones are used sporadically, which leads to less vigilance on the part of users. Their small screen sizes often cause users to make mistakes. As well, smartphones rely more on the cloud for computation and storage than do traditional personal computers. This causes user data to spread inadvertently to other computers and networks.

A key challenge is that the security software of the current smartphone is inherited from that of the decades-old personal computer. Many smartphone systems are essentially the same as that of the personal computer, but scaled down to fit in a smartphone.

Dr. David Lie, Canada Research Chair in Secure and Reliable Computer Systems, will develop secure systems software that is specifically designed to address the unique security challenges of smartphones and the cloud. By doing so, Lie is taking a fundamentally different approach than most system security research, which focuses on fixing flaws in existing systems.

Lie’s research could lead to the development of smartphone-specific technologies that will improve security for all users.