20 December 2021
The researcher Narseo Vallina-Rodríguez has successfully passed the evaluation for a tenure-track position at IMDEA Networks. Therefore, he becomes a tenured member of the institute as a Research Associate Professor. This is a very important recognition that has given into account his professional career and his achievements in security and privacy.
Albert Banchs, current director of IMDEA Networks, has highlighted that this is “an important milestone for the institute”. “My congratulations go for Narseo for this outstanding performance throughout the tenure track. All the committee members unanimously supported giving tenure to him and were truly impressed by his performance and achievements”, he points out.
Narseo joined IMDEA Networks in October 2016 as a Research Assistant Professor, where he leads the Internet Analytics Group (IAG). Besides, he has a Research Scientist position at the International Computer Science Institute (ISCI, Berkeley) in the US. Since 2019, he is also co-founder of AppCensus Inc., a US-based startup whose mission is the development of technology to analyze the privacy risks of software at scale.
His research focuses primarily on two areas: network measurements and privacy and online security. The social impact of the research in which he has participated has earned him numerous awards. In fact, recently, he has been awarded the Ramón y Cajal grant from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. In 2019 and 2020, he received the Emilio ACED Award from the AEPD, and in 2019 the CNIL-INRIA Privacy Protection Award. The award-winning article was ‘An Analysis of Pre-installed Android Software’ by Julien Gamba, Mohammed Rashed, Abbas Razaghpanah, Juan Tapiador and Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez and it reveals the privacy and security issues associated with the pre-installed software on Android devices and their supply chain.
On the other hand, he contributed directly to enhancing the security of products such as Android’s permission model and Google’s Exposure Notification API for enabling contact tracing apps during the COVID-19 pandemic. The latter discovery also had a regulatory impact due to the nature of the potential data breach. These findings were reported to Google, the USA FTC, AEPD, and the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), who later escalated it to the European Commission Task Force responsible for the design and implementation of national contact-tracing apps. This resulted in immediate actions to pressure Google for releasing a fix.
Vallina-Rodriguez has taken this opportunity to thank the IMDEA Faculty members for giving him the opportunity to start this research adventure 5 years ago. “Looking back, I think I made a good career choice and that I am lucky to be in a place with so much research freedom, such an international environment, good administrative support, and so many smart colleagues. However, all these achievements were only possible thanks to my collaborators and the incredible and impactful work of my PhD students”, says the researcher.