Research Focus Class on Privacy under Attack

Our Research Focus Classes (RFC) are a special kind of lecture: they are more interactive and research oriented than typical lectures. Students participating in an RFC should be aware that they are not only getting in touch with real research but also have to expect doing independent work.

SS 15: Privacy under Attack

  • SWS: V3/Ü2, ECTS: 6
  • Study programs: Master Informatik (Software und Kommunikation), Master Software Systems Engineering (Communication), Master Media Informatics
  • Dates: to be determined with the participants
  • Further information: CAMPUS
  • Registration and questions: contact Martin Henze


Do you use WhatsApp, post photos or messages via Twitter, or changed your route in response to a traffic jam indication of your navigation system? What if others exploit available information and related meta data or report wrong data to public databases? Possible effects have already been shown: Public WhatsApp information allow to track your daily routines, burglars can use photo meta information or social media messages to detect that you are on vacation, your boss may detect if you complain about your job or colleagues, and a traffic jam report of your navigation system could be the result of faked data. What are additional open data sources, which hidden data can be accessed, and what could be done with gathered information? If you are interested in these questions, join our Research Focus Class in summer term 2015.

Structure of the Research Focus Class

The RFCs are research-oriented courses following an interactive schema. To do so, we give a short introductory lecture about the topic (5 lecture slots). Afterwards in the concept phase, each participant identifies a research project he/she finds interesting (if necessary, we will help you with this) and prepares a short presentation on this idea. In the remainder of the class you then should do own research on your topic, which, depending on the topic, could consist of experiments, prototypes, analyses, .... Finally, you present your results to the other participants and the COMSYS group.

The five introductory lecture slots will be:

  1. Introduction to Privacy
  2. Reverse Engineering Communication Protocols
  3. Large Scale Measurements of Networked Systems
  4. Data Analysis
  5. Security & Privacy in the Internet of Things

Overall, we have the following rough time schedule:

  • Lecture Phase: April-May
    • Dates to be determined (probably once per week)
    • Getting up to speed!
    • Learn about examples, approaches, tools, ...
  • Concept Phase: May
    • Identify a (small) problem
    • First feasibility check and concept
    • Present your idea to the other participants
  • Mini Project: June-September
    • Develop your idea
    • Get your hands dirty!
    • Short presentation/demo


This class will serve as an introduction on how to conduct research in communication systems. Besides learning about the actual topics, taking this course is an ideal preparation for doing a master thesis in our group. The course is only open for Master students. You should have prior knowledge at least in the basics of data communication and an interest in doing independent research. As this course is supposed to be highly interactive, seats are limited. Should we receive more registrations than seats available, we will select students based on their qualification for this course.

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