Trusted Cells: A Sea Change for Personal Data Services
Iulian Sandu Popa
How do you keep a secret about your personal life in an age where your daughter's glasses record and share everything she senses, your wallet records and shares your financial transactions, and your set-top box records and shares your family's energy consumption? Your personal data has become a prime asset for many companies around the Internet, but can you avoid -- or even detect -- abusive usage? Today, there is a wide consensus that individuals should have increased control on how their personal data is collected, managed and shared. Yet there is no appropriate technical solution to implement such personal data services: centralized solutions sacrifice security for innovative applications, while decentralized solutions sacrifice innovative applications for security. In this paper, we argue that the advent of secure hardware in all personal IT devices, at the edges of the Internet, could trigger a sea change. We propose the vision of trusted cells: personal data servers running on secure smart phones, set-top boxes, secure portable tokens or smart cards to form a global, decentralized data platform that provides security yet enables innovative applications. We motivate our approach, describe the trusted cells architecture and define a range of challenges for future research.
Technical report TR-2012-158 in IT University Technical Report Series, August 2012.
Available as PDF.