Friday, 20 November 2015

ABCDE....DevOps and Privacy, pt 2

Earlier I introduced the idea that DevOps, particularly in the area of privacy could take lessons from trauma medicine, particularly in taking on board ideas from ATLS.

This led to some further ideas about the relationships or analogies between disciplines - something we've already discussed before in the context of surgery, aviation and checklists.

As software engineering is being brought closer and closer to the metaphorical coal-face - we've moved away from requirements up-front to agile and now to "DevOps" where engineering and operations become the same thing we are starting to see the need to move to much more structured and disciplined teams of engineers. If this isn't happening then there are some serious cultural and management problems.

As this shift happens we have to develop techniques to deal with this - as already mentioned checklists and ATLS provide the necessary kind of structures.

By why ATLS in particular? Well, we can draw an analogy between DevOps and trauma medicine in that DevOps operates with extremely short time-scales and in an environment where fixes and patches need to be very quick and leave the system in a stable state where a longer-term patch can be made later.

DevOps is the ER of the software engineering world.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Airmiles and Customer Service

I think we're all used to utterly rubbish customer service from airlines, especially if you have to fly in economy class. No food, no drink, Byzantine terms and conditions, cancellations and subsequent rebookings that cost money (!!!), cramped seating and paying for Wifi on board without refunds if it doesn't work. Oh and good luck if you want to speak to a human, either on the phone or at the airport

Some airlines still have a concept of customer service - SAS and Lufthansa as well as low cost challenger Norwegian at least treat passengers (sorry customers) with some degree of dignity.

I stopped flying Finnair years ago and switched my allegiance to Lufthansa and Norwegian, primary on price. When Norwegian want 600eur to fly a family to Gatwick from Helsinki while Finnair wanted over 2500eur (on a BA flight too!) with effectively the same ticketing terms and conditions. For long haul Lufthansa is my preferred airline - they serve wine and beer with the meal (all included in the price) and have the most professional and hard working cabin crew I've so far come across.

While none of the above are perfect - they could do a HUGE amount more to make the economy experience better - more on that another time.

But what really gets me is that if times are economically tough for airlines, how little they do to actually understand their customer. I mean I used to fly Finnair religiously - their customer service was excellent, food and drink on board, clean aircraft and you could change flights without being punished. Let's be honest here, Finnair were excellent, really, really excellent! I used to change whole itineraries to fly Finnair....

If you want customers then shouldn't you understand why customers aren't flying with you. Isn't this the whole point of customer loyalty programmes?

Below is my Finnair Plus statement - it's been that way for years and not once have I ever been asked why...

So privacy, security and other aspects aside, if you have a customer loyalty card of any sort and change your behaviour, eg: by stopping using that company's services and they never query why, then you were probably never getting any service anyway...

I used to have quite a tally of Finnair points, they all expired or were changed to some newer, more customer friendly scheme, for the benefits of the customer. I was never informed why or when, nor did anyone ever contact me about the change. For a customer loyalty programme you've got to admit that's pretty dire.

So, if you happen to work in the customer service dept of an airline and wish to discuss the above and how you can win me back as a customer, and a loyal one at that, let me know...

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

DevOps and the ABC(DE[FG]) of Privacy

Or maybe this should be called the ATLS of privacy perhaps?  ATLS, or Advanced Trauma Life Support is a training programme for dealing with medical trauma incidents and is typically used by first responders such as paramedics to an incident.

Now as we move to a DevOps oriented model - think of a highly integrated Agile with a "right now" delivery timescale - then the way we will have to react to compliance, privacy impact assessments, privacy engineering etc is going to be on the same kind of time-scale. Certainly if we are late or delayed with the PIA then the product is going to be shipped - with some interesting security and privacy consequences certainly!

So, I conjecture it makes sense that we bring our PIA/compliance activities not just to the engineering level but also to the speed of development and operations.

This means that the PIA is going to have to be extremely focused and very strictly run. Effectively we need the DevOps privacy version of the medical ABC.

The question then becomes what is the equivalent to the medical ABC?

As I've stated before, privacy can [must] learn a lot of things from medicine (and aviation) - such as checklists - in that they both work in very agile, unstructured and reactive environments. Privacy in a DevOps situation can not rely upon traditional compliance or work at the usual, relative glacial speed associated with such work.


Ian Oliver (2015). Privacy as a Safety Critical Concept. 1st International Workshop on Privacy Engineering. California. (Keynote Talk)

Ian Oliver (2014). Privacy Engineering: A Data Flow and Ontological Approach. CreateSpace. 978-1497569713 (see:  )

Monday, 2 November 2015

Second International Workshop on Privacy Engineering (IWPE'16)

Second International Workshop on Privacy Engineering (IWPE'16)
Co-located with 37th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy

26 May 2016 - The Fairmont, San Jose, CA



Deadline for abstract submission: 18 January 2016
Deadline for paper submission: 8 February 2016
Notification of acceptance: 22 February 2016
Accepted paper camera-ready: 3 March 2016 

We are pleased to invite you to participate in the Second International Workshop on Privacy Engineering (IWPE'16).

Privacy engineering research has never been a more timely endeavor. Ongoing news reports regarding global surveillance programs, massive personal data breaches in corporate databases, and notorious examples of personal tragedies due to privacy violations have intensified societal demands for privacy-friendly systems. In response, current legislative and standardization processes worldwide are seeking to strengthen individuals’ privacy by introducing legal and organizational frameworks that personal data collectors and processors must follow. As a result, engineers are increasingly expected to build and maintain systems that preserve privacy and comply with data protection standards in different ICT domains (such as health, energy, transportation, social computing, law enforcement, and public services) and on different infrastructures and architectures (such as cloud, grid, or mobile computing).

Although there is a consensus on the benefits of an engineering approach to privacy, few concrete proposals exist for models, methodologies, techniques and tools to support engineers and organizations in this endeavor. Work that focuses on helping organizations and software developers to identify and adopt appropriate privacy engineering methods, techniques and tools in their daily practices is also missing. Furthermore, it is difficult to systematically evaluate whether the systems developed using privacy engineering methodologies comply with legal frameworks, provide necessary technical assurances, and fulfill users’ privacy requirements.

Clearly, more research is needed in developing methods that can help translate legal and normative concepts, as well as user expectations, into systems requirements. There is also a growing need for techniques and tools to support organizations and engineers in developing and maintaining (socio-)technical systems that meet these requirements. In an effort to close the gaps in research, the topics of IWPE'16 include all aspects of privacy engineering, ranging from its theoretical foundations, engineering approaches and support infrastructures to its practical application in projects of different scales.

Specifically, we are seeking the following kinds of papers:
  1.  technical solution papers that illustrate a novel formalism, method or other research finding with preliminary evaluation;
  2.  experience and practice papers that describe a case study, challenge or lessons learned in a specific domain;
  3.  early evaluations of tools and techniques that support engineering tasks in privacy requirements, design, implementation, testing, etc.;
  4.  interdisciplinary studies or critical reviews of existing privacy engineering concepts, methods and frameworks; 
  5.  vision papers that take a clear position informed by evidence based on a thorough literature review.

IWPE’16 welcomes papers that focus on novel solutions based on recent developments in privacy engineering. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
  • Integrating law and policy compliance into the development process
  • Privacy impact assessment during software development
  • Privacy risk management models
  • Privacy breach recovery methods
  • Technical standards, heuristics and best practices for privacy engineering
  • Privacy engineering in technical standards
  • Privacy requirements elicitation and analysis methods
  • User privacy and data protection requirements
  • Management of privacy requirements with other system requirements
  • Privacy requirements implementation
  • Privacy engineering strategies and design patterns
  • Privacy-preserving architectures
  • Privacy engineering and databases
  • Privacy engineering in the context of interaction design and usability
  • Privacy testing and evaluation methods
  • Validation and verification of privacy requirements
  • Engineering of Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs)
  • Integration of PETs into systems
  • Models and approaches for the verification of privacy properties
  • Tools and formal languages supporting privacy engineering
  • Teaching and training privacy engineering
  • Adaptations of privacy engineering into specific software development processes
  • Pilots and real-world applications
  • Evaluation of privacy engineering methods, technologies and tools
  • Privacy engineering and accountability
  • Organizational, legal, political and economic aspects of privacy engineering

This topic list is not meant to be exhaustive, as IWPE'16 is interested in all aspects of privacy engineering. However, to screen out off-topic papers early in the review process, we request authors to submit an abstract prior to their paper submission. Abstracts of papers without a clear application to privacy engineering will be considered outside the scope of this workshop and may be rejected.



We solicit unpublished short position papers (up to 4 pages) and long papers reporting technical, research or industry experience (up to 8 pages) on all dimensions of the privacy engineering domain. Each paper, written in English, must follow IEEE Proceedings format. Submission of a paper should be regarded as a commitment that, should the paper be accepted, at least one of the authors will attend the workshop to present the paper.

Abstracts and papers must be submitted via EasyChair

All IWPE'16 Papers will be published in IEEE eXplore, which is indexed by EI Engineering Index, ISI Conference Proceedings Citation Index (CPCI-S), Scopus, etc.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Historial Navigation Techniques in the US Navy

This is an interesting development: a reintroduction of an "historical" technique to ostensibly address a problem introduced by a technology to make things simple(r).

The same techniques guided ancient Polynesians in the open Pacific and led Sir Ernest Shackleton to remote Antarctica, then oriented astronauts when Apollo 12 was disabled by lightning - the techniques of celestial navigation. 
A glimmer of the old lore has returned to the Naval Academy. 
Officials reinstated brief lessons in celestial navigation this year, nearly two decades after the full class was determined outdated and cut from the curriculum.
That decision, in the late 1990s, made national news and caused a stir among the old guard of navigators.
Maritime nostalgia, however, isn't behind the return.
Rather, the escalating threat of cyberattacks has led the Navy to dust off its tools to measure the angles of stars. 
After all, you can't hack a sextant.

Putting the political aspects of the GPS system aside, it is a single point of failure for navigation, at least until Galileo and GLONASS are properly supported by navigation devices. Furthermore, as the article mentions, the GPS system is open to attack from various vectors. The use of "legacy" (I love that word - It doesn't mean obsolete!) technologies such as the sextant address many of these issues.

For me the main thing here is that the sextant forces understanding of navigation - quite literally how coordinates are calculated which is something missing from GPS.

In other words, don't rely upon technology, or if you do, you'd better know how to drop back a level of automation...sounds is the basic premise of the 'Children of the Magenta' talk by American Airlines (see here for an earlier blog posting, the video might be available on YouTube somewhere).

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Tryweryn and Welsh Devolution

It has been fifty years since the flooding of the Tryweryn valley in Wales in order to create a reservoir for the city of Liverpool. This week also saw the publication of the planned reserved powers for the Welsh Assembly.

The planned reserved powers when coupled with the planned English Laws plan introduces an scenario where it becomes possible for English MPs to veto a Welsh Law in cases where there might be a perceived affect upon England. The reverse situation can not happen however.

This then raises all sorts of strange constitutional questions; such as does this invalidate the results of the 2011 referendum of law making powers for Wales?

Another point then in the definition of what sovereignty means.

If we place the above into the EU-UK then this becomes the heart of the debate about whether the UK should in in or out of the EU.

To give a more concrete example of the convoluted ideas of sovereignty and national responsibility there's the point made by John Elfed Jones, former chairman of Welsh Water that Wales should be allowed to sell its water to England. The analogy drawn between food and crops from eastern England and 'Scottish' oil should spawn a very interesting debate.

To finalise, we have confusion in the UK about what sovereignty and responsibility means. At one political-economic level we demand responsibility and sovereignty, but at others not at all. So where does the boundary exist between these concepts?


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Happy Time Travelling Day

As today is the day when Marty McFly arrives in the future (or present as it is now - at least until tomorrow) I thought it might be fun to reference back to the only thing that makes Titanic a bearable film...the fact that it is a prequel to Terminator.

If Jack hadn't saved Rose then the ship would have turned around in search for her, thereby avoiding the collision with the iceberg...and all the things that would have entailed from that.

Obviously Jack's mission was to save Rose - presumably she's somehow related to Sarah Connor - and unfortunately 1500 people die in the collateral damage.

Don't believe me, go read the thread on Reddit 

I particularly like the idea that Jack is really The Doctor rescuing a relation to a future potential companion...Rose... :-)

Now scientists have searched for time travellers making comments on social media, apparently without success. But then again time travellers might have very strict rules about such seen in the 1992 film Timescape.

However there is evidence that Twitter featured on the cover of Amiga magazine in April 1988! Well, not quite..but you never know...

Anyway, next week's lottery numbers are 4,7,14,19,22,34 ... I think, sorry can't read my handwriting...

...oh, and I shouldn't say this, but next week James Cameron told me last week he was a time traveller....


Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Privacy Engineering Tutorial Slides (TrustCom)

Here are the publicly released slides from my privacy engineering tutorial given at TrustCom 2015 in Helsinki earlier this year.

The slides should be used in conjunction with the book - Privacy Engineering: a Data Flow and Ontological Approach - supporting this.

NB: I notice there are some formatting errors in the slides - this seems to come from SlideShare's conversion algorithm as the original PDF appears to be fine. 

The full session also included talks by Jonathan Fox (Intel/MacAfee) and Antti Vähä-Sipiliä (F-Secure)

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Pluto in colour

Just released colour image of Pluto...and you thought last week's image was incredible...

Friday, 21 August 2015


I'm pretty sure this is just hot water...

"Ceci n'est pas te."

Maybe we need a better semantics for what tea (and coffee) actually are... and not this kind of "treachery"!

Maybe it is homeopathic tea?

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

On Being Privacy Risk Adverse

Being risk adverse in [IT] system development isn't always a bad idea - consider mainframe technologies which are constructed to avoid any kind of failure bringing the whole system down, or not using the latest, greatest JavaScript library for your mission-critical web development...

Risk management in privacy has come to the fore of late, especially the with publication of the NIST standard of risk management. So today's conversation about being risk adverse and how one assess risk in privacy was extremely interesting.

Consider this:

Collecting personal data (or PII) is a risky activity and therefore must be minimised as much as possible.

The definition of personal data is very weak, but it is always best to consider almost everything personal data in case it is cross-referenced with other data (which would make it personal data)


Don't collect anything. Ever.

While extreme, it shows how a misplaced understanding is many aspects, including what is risk and the nature of information (personal data) can lead to extreme situations and conclusions.

While NIST is absolutely correct in its assessment that we need proper risk management procedures, how these relate to requirements, information type and all of the other privacy ontological structure is as yet very, very weak.

In fact, terms such as personal data and PII do not come even close to being in any form usable for risk management - for this we need to go much deeper into the nature of information. For example, instead of "personal data" we could use classifications on information type and a mapping from different kinds of data (of these types) to risk metrics (note the plural). An overall risk value can then be more accurately calculated - or at least be calculated on the basic of what information we actually have.

You can read more about this approach to privacy engineering in the book: Privacy Engineering - a dataflow and ontological approach.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Google Blogger and EU Cookie Laws

This is very kind of Google...providing you with an automatically generated privacy notice to European customers as detailed on the Blogger settings page:

This to me highlights a few problems with privacy laws and compliance:
  • Firstly, you have to understand EU privacy laws
  • You have to understand how to write such a notice
  • You have to understand what systems such as Google Analytics etc actually collect and process.
  • You might have to provide an opt-out mechanism such as Google's Analytics Opt-Out.
For 99.999% of bloggers (+/- a few %age points), I strongly doubt that any of this is understood or even known about at all.

So while Google might come in for some criticism for its dominance in the information gathering domain, they at least try to make things easier for their customers.

Then there's the EU Cookie Consent Kit which guides you through at least one part of the consent notice maze.

As an exercise, write a simple work out what privacy notice you should display. Just to make it interesting, you are not allowed to have any contact with a privacy lawyer nor anyone who has a detailed knowledge about such things.

This quote by Einstein (often misattributed to Feynmann) sums up privacy laws and the average person writing a blog:

You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother

Our privacy laws have become so complicated and often so misaligned with technology that they can not be easily understood by the average Internet user.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Internet Marketing (Humour)

People often ask privacy professionals how they lock down their PCs to prevent loss of their data, tracking etc, or whether they use Facebook, Twitter etc...well the truth is, privacy professionals tend to be quite selective on what they post, and in some cases, leave one or two browsers or PCs deliberately open for various reasons. One is to game advertisers, or maybe to examine what advertisers and marketers are actually doing.

One thing I have noticed is that certain retailers, for example Gigantti of Finland comes to mind, obviously pass my purchase details on to some marketer/advertiser. I don't ever remember being asked to opt-out of this, but, I do now get adverts for the things I've just bought. They could redirect their advertising budget and remove a few middle managers and save a pile of cash instead...

Then there's things like this:

I must admit I love these; I never click on them, but without such crap as this, the Internet would be a lot less let's start.

Top left...doctors are annoyed at a 53 yo mother because she's found a miracle cure to wrinkles. I'm actually more surprised that it isn't cosmetic companies who are annoyed - surely they're the ones who'll be put out of business. I think doctors (even cosmetic surgeons!) have much more important things to worry about. Then you have to ask, "Who is this woman?"  Surely if she's upset so many doctors and discovered a miracle cure for wrinkles why isn't she on magazines, TV or even Oprah?!

Top women don't want other diets, just a pill that is exceptionally powerful. I guess this is some kind of diet pill and again I'm sure dieting companies would be more than interested in this, but...On the other hand I'm not sure that most women want to go from being normal and healthy to a misproportioned anorexic.

Top right...same again, except a selfie-obsessed, European looking blonde (so it isn't just asian women who know about this) receives a malformed, badly photoshopped lower body by using some secret Asian fat burning trick...

Bottom left...SIPOO?!?! If there are millionaires in Sipoo with that kind of yacht then they're probably getting its wreckage salvaged from the islands in the archipelago after they've run aground. Monaco would have been better idea with that size of yacht and the climate better for all those trees and the swimming pool. Nice use of IP geo-location to personalise that advert to me; almost had me fooled for a moment.

Bottom middle...I have those vegetables in my fridge: broccoli and coriander...sorry, kale and cilantro. Another interesting medical claim and I'm left wondering how those vegetables target those specific areas of your body and how this hasn't been discovered before given that we humans do eat quite a variety of vegetables. I wonder what would happen if you would dilute these vegetables in a big vat of water, shake it, dilute it again, shake it and so on until only a trace of the memory of the vegetables is left?

Bottom right...this is easy for a privacy professional, the EU have already come to your rescue with the Right to be Forgotten. Though I guess if getting out of your Ferrari while posting for the waiting paparazzi is your thing, then the right to be forgotten is probably way down on your list of things to worry about. Unless of course there's that picture in Hello magazine of your looking frumpy and which cases I can recommend a miracle pill and two vegetables to help, and if there's any left over skin after the diet, there's a 53yo mother you can talk to; assuming you can get past the rioting throngs of doctors baying for her blood...

Marketing and advertising with a touch of personalisation, the Internet wouldn't be the same without it :-)

Thursday, 13 August 2015

A Privacy Mind Map

I found this in my archives, basically a mind map of thoughts I had on privacy as viewed in different contexts at that time. I won't write more for the moment, but I'll place the mind map here as it might be interesting, or even spark a discussion to two...

A Privacy Mind-Map

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Privacy Engineering Tutorial at TrustCom 2015

Privacy Engineering Tutorial
Held in Conjunction with TrustCom 2015 Helsinki, Finland

Friday 21, August 2015

10h05-11h50 – Session I

The Privacy Engineer’s Manifesto
Jonathan Fox, Michelle Dennedy, Intel/McAfee

“The Privacy Engineer's Manifesto: Getting from Policy to Code to QA to Value is the first book of its kind, offering industry-proven solutions that go beyond mere theory and adding lucid perspectives on the challenges and opportunities raised with the emerging "personal" information economy”

In this session you will learn the guiding principles of privacy engineering; how legal, management, business and process interact, and gain the foundational knowledge for implementation of a privacy engineering programme.

13h10-14h55 – Session II

Invited Talk: Software Engineering Aspects of Privacy
Antti Vähä-Sipiliä, F-Secure

Software security initiatives are becoming more common. We'll cover how privacy engineering can be supported by real-life security practices, and how a modern software development organisation can integrate privacy engineering in both requirements and delivery activities

In this session you will obtain a deep insight into how privacy engineering practices have been applied in a real-world scenario.

15h15-17h00 – Session III

Privacy Engineering
Ian Oliver, Nokia

To construct information systems from small mobile 'apps' to huge, heterogeneous, cloudified systems requires merging together skills from software engineering, legal, security and many other disciplines - including some outside of these fields! Only through properly modelling the system under development can we fully appreciate the complexity of where personal data and information flows; and more importantly, effectively communicate this.

In this session aspects of modeling systems and terminology/ontologies for privacy are presented. This will enable you to better understand, communication and reason about the privacy (and security) aspects of your systems. This session also presents how models of a system, requirements and risk analysis fit together. The session concludes with an overview of analysis techniques such as FMEA, RCA and process integration and auditing will also be presented.

Supporting Material

The tutorials draw upon the material presented in the following books:
  • Ian Oliver (2014). Privacy Engineering: A Dataflow and Ontological Approach. CreateSpace Independent Publishing. 978-1497569713,
  • Michelle Dennedy, Jonathan Fox, Thomas Finneran (2014). The Privacy Engineer's Manifesto: Getting from Policy to Code to QA to Value. APress. 978-1430263555