The ICSI Haystack: A Tool to Illuminate the Dark Side of the Mobile Ecosystem

23 Feb

Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez, Research Scientist in the Networking and Security team at the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI), Berkeley

In-house Presentation

As a society we have come to rely upon our mobile phones for myriad daily tasks. It is striking how little insight we, as mobile users and researchers, have into the operation and performance of our devices and network, into how (or whether) they protect the information we entrust to them, and with whom they share it.

The research community (including the speaker) have energetically used a variety of approaches to gain empirical understanding of the mobile device/network ecosystem; however, these techniques have had to make tradeoffs that affect either the scale, scope or granularity of measurements. This talk describes how we leverage ideas from this prior work to design and develop the ICSI Haystack: a user-space mobile traffic measurement platform that is comprehensive and localized to the device so that it overcomes the barriers of previous research efforts. The talk will demonstrate its utility to researchers and average users alike by providing three case studies on mobile traffic characterization, identification of privacy and security risks caused by mobile apps, and performance measurements.

About Narseo Vallina-Rodríguez

Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez is a Research Scientist in the Networking and Security team at the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) in Berkeley. Narseo earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Cambridge in 2013 after having received his M.Sc. in Telecommunications Engineering from the University of Oviedo in 2007. Narseo has also gained broad industry experience after working as a Research Engineer at Vodafone R&D in 2008, and after completing several internships at Deutsche Telekom Labs and Telefonica Research during his Ph.D. Working at ICSI, Narseo has explored the potential of user-centric mobile apps to crowd-source network and traffic measurements for performance enhancement and increased operational transparency of the mobile ecosystem and user awareness. The outcome of his research has been awarded with a Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship in 2012, the best short-paper award at ACM CoNEXT’14, and the best paper award at ACM HotMiddlebox’15.

Personal website

This event will be conducted in English


  • Location: Sala 1.1/2 IMDEA Networks Institute, Avda. del Mar Mediterráneo 22, 28918 Leganés – Madrid

  • Organization: NETCOM Research Group (Telematics Engineering Department, UC3M); IMDEA Networks Institute
  • Time: 11:00 am
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