Emerging Internet of Thing (IoT) platforms provide a convenient solution for integrating heterogeneous IoT devices and deploying home automation applications. However, serious privacy threats arise as device data now flow out to the IoT platforms, which may be subject to various attacks. We observe two privacy-unfriendly practices in emerging home automation systems: first, the majority of data flowed to the platform are superfluous in the sense that they do not trigger any home automation; second, home owners currently have nearly zero control over their data. We present PFirewall, a customizable data-flow control system to enhance user privacy. PFirewall analyzes the automation apps to extract their semantics, which are automatically transformed into data-minimization policies; these policies only send minimized data flows to the platform for app execution, such that the ability of attackers to infer user privacy is significantly impaired. In addition, PFirewall provides capabilities and interfaces for users to define and enforce customizable policies based on individual privacy preferences. PFirewall adopts an elegant man-in-the-middle design, transparently executing data minimization and user-defined policies to process raw data flows and mediating the processed data between IoT devices and the platform (via the hub), without requiring modifications of the platform or IoT devices. We implement PFirewall to work with two popular platforms: SmartThings and openHAB, and set up two real-world testbeds to evaluate its performance. The evaluation results show that PFirewall is very effective: it reduces IoT data sent to the platform by 97% and enforces user defined policies successfully.
- Pub Date:
- October 2019
- Computer Science - Cryptography and Security
- The first version of this work was submitted to USENIX Security on November 15th, 2018. This version contains some minor modifications based on that submission