Lumen: Fine-Grained Visibility and Control of Mobile Traffic in User-Space
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Your mobile phone hosts a rich array of information about you and your behavior. This includes a wide range of unique identifiers and sensitive personal information that enables online tracking, often times for delivering targeted advertisement. It is, however, striking how little insight and control we, as mobile users have into the operation and performance of our devices, into how (or whether) they protect information we entrust to them, and who they share it with. Further, it is not just regular users that are in the dark; much of the operation of mobile devices remains mysterious even to experts. The ICSI Haystack project aims to overcome the limitations found on previous methodologies to better illuminate the mobile ecosystem at scale. At the core of the project is the Lumen app, available for free on Google Play. The app runs on the mobile phone itself and can comprehensively observe app, device and network activity. This will allow ICSI researchers to understand the operation, performance and personal information flow---including online third-party services collecting this information---at unprecedented scales with real user stimuli. Specifically, Lumen’s comprehensive vantage point facilitates four research thrusts: network performance analysis, mobile traffic characterization, analysis of the mobile tracking ecosystem, and mobile networking security assessment.