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Henry Carter, PhD - Villanova University. Villanova, PA, US

Henry Carter, PhD Henry Carter, PhD

Assistant Professor of Computing Sciences | College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | Villanova University


Henry Carter, PhD, is an expert in cybersecurity, with a specific focus on greater protection for mobile applications.





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Newest election meddling attempts detected (July 2018)



Areas of Expertise (5)

Computer Science Network Security Secure Mobile Applications Cryptography Cybersecurity


With cyberattacks increasing in number and severity, improved cybersecurity is one of the most vital needs of our digitally-connected world. Dr. Carter researches and has expertise in cybersecurity, with a specific focus on greater protection for mobile applications. He is adept at explaining the technological intricacies of the digital domain in a clear, concise manner.

Education (3)

Georgia Institute of Technology: Ph.D., Computer Science

Georgia Institute of Technology: M.S., Computer Science

Belmont University: B.S., Computer Science

Affiliations (1)

  • Association for Computing Machinery

Select Media Appearances (5)

How to Log Off of Facebook Forever, With All Its Perks and Pitfalls

The New York Times  online


“Whenever you’re deleting a social media profile, it’s important to check whether the process actually deletes your profile or simply deactivates it,” Henry Carter, a professor of computing sciences at Villanova University, said in an email.
Even when you close an account, some sites might retain your data and keep an “inactive” version of your profile posted should you decide to return, he wrote.

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Can ransomware attacks such as one that hit Pa. Democrats be stopped?

The Inquirer - Daily News  


Henry Carter, an assistant professor in the Department of Computing Sciences at Villanova University, said there is plenty of ransom software available on the internet to download and modify if you know where to look ...

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Travelers, beware! Hacking lurks in plugs and ports

USA Today  online


Last time I rented a car, its onboard infotainment system offered to pair with my iPhone, and I instinctively pushed the "yes" button. Wrong answer. Such convenient connections can be a trap for travelers, experts warn. The Federal Trade Commission recently sounded the alarm on smartphones interfacing with the onboard computers of rental cars, saying it could expose your personal information to future renters, employees or even hackers. … "Smart systems installed in vehicles provide a new way for hackers to steal information or install dangerous software on your phone," warns Henry Carter, a computer science professor at Villanova University.

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Copying countdown: How scientists plan to save climate data from Trump

The Christian Science Monitor  online


Scientists from around the country are preparing to copy government climate records onto independent servers, even in Canada, in order to maintain a copy out of the reach of President-elect Donald Trump's administration.
By copying information onto independent servers in Canada, the data and websites on climate change research would have an extra layer of protection against Trump in the event of deletion in the US, says Villanova University computing sciences professor Henry Carter.

"Moving data to another country would be an effective means for preserving it in the event of the new administration actually deciding to delete climate records," Dr. Carter tells the Christian Science Monitor in an email. "It has been notoriously difficult for the American legal system to stop copyright infringement and digital piracy happening in foreign countries. Demanding that another country delete this climate data seems even more difficult, since storing this data doesn't seem to break any laws (assuming the data is publicly available anyway)."

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Age of Pennsylvania's voting machines serves as safeguard against cyberattack

WHYY  radio


For weeks, we've been hearing about whether a cyberattack could somehow interfere with the upcoming presidential election results.
Different types of voting machines are used on Election Day throughout the area, and some are more vulnerable.
"I don't think a large-scale attack is likely," Henry Carter, an assistant professor at Villanova University, said. His expertise centers on cybersecurity and cryptology.
"The good news about the Pennsylvania voting machines, in particular, is that none of them are connected to the internet," he said. "Any malicious attackers will have to be physically present and have physical access to the voting machines to carry out an attack."

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Select Academic Articles (6)

“OnionDNS: A Seizure-Resistant Top-Level Domain” International Journal of Information Security

Nolen Scaife, Henry Carter, Lyrissa Lidsky, Rachael L. Jones, Patrick Traynor

The Domain Name System (DNS) provides the critical service of mapping canonical names to IP addresses. Recognizing this, a number of parties have increasingly attempted to perform “domain seizures” on targets by having them delisted from DNS. Such operations often occur without providing due process to the owners of these domains, a practice made potentially worse by recent legislative proposals. We address this problem by creating OnionDNS, an anonymous top-level domain and resolution service for the Internet. Our solution relies on the establishment of a hidden service running DNS within Tor and uses a variety of mechanisms to ensure a high-performance architecture with strong integrity guarantees for resolved records. We then present our anonymous domain registrar and detail the protocol for securely transferring the service to another party. Finally, we also conduct both performance and legal analyses to further demonstrate the robustness of this approach. In so doing, we show that the delisting of domains from DNS can be mitigated in an efficient and secure manner.

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Outsourcing Computation for Private Function Evaluation International Journal of Information and Computer Security

H. Carter and P. Traynor

Forthcoming 2017
Garbled circuits provide a powerful tool for jointly evaluating functions while preserving the privacy of each user’s inputs.
While recent research has made the use of this primitive more practical, such solutions generally assume that participants are
symmetrically provisioned with massive computing resources. In reality, most people on the planet only have access to the
comparatively sparse computational resources associated with their mobile phones, and those willing and able to pay for access
to public cloud computing infrastructure cannot be assured that their data will remain unexposed. We address this problem
by creating a new SFE protocol that allows mobile devices to securely outsource the majority of computation required to
evaluate a garbled circuit. Our protocol, which builds on the most efficient garbled circuit evaluation techniques, includes a new
outsourced oblivious transfer primitive that requires significantly less bandwidth and computation than standard OT primitives
and outsourced input validation techniques that force the cloud to prove that it is executing all protocols correctly. After showing
that our extensions are secure in the malicious model, we conduct an extensive performance evaluation for a number of standard
SFE test applications as well as a privacy-preserving navigation application designed specifically for the mobile use-case. Our
system reduces execution time by 98.92% and bandwidth by 99.95% for the edit distance problem of size 128 compared to
non-outsourced evaluation. These results show that even the least capable devices are capable of using large garbled circuits for
secure computation.

Outsourcing secure two-party computation as a black box Security and Communication Networks


Secure multiparty computation (SMC) offers a technique to preserve functionality and data privacy in mobile applications. Current protocols that make this costly cryptographic construction feasible on mobile devices securely outsource the bulk of the computation to a cloud provider. However, these outsourcing techniques are built on specific secure computation assumptions and tools, and applying new SMC ideas to the outsourced setting requires the protocols to be completely rebuilt and proven secure. In this work, we develop a generic technique for lifting any secure two-party computation protocol into an outsourced two-party SMC protocol. By augmenting the function being evaluated with auxiliary consistency checks and input values, we can create an outsourced protocol with low overhead cost. Our implementation and evaluation show that in the best case our outsourcing additions execute within the confidence intervals of two servers running the same computation and consume approximately the same bandwidth. In addition, the mobile device itself uses minimal bandwidth over a single round of communication. This work demonstrates that efficient outsourcing is possible with any underlying SMC scheme and provides an outsourcing protocol that is efficient and directly applicable to current and future SMC techniques. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Efficient and secure template blinding for biometric authentication Communications and Network Security


Fingerprints as biometric authenticators are rapidly increasing in popularity, with fingerprint scanners available on many modern smartphones and laptops. Because these authenticators are non-revocable, special care must be taken to prevent leakage of the representative feature information of a user's fingerprint. While secure multiparty computation protocols have been designed to maintain fingerprint privacy during authentication, they do not protect the data stored on the authentication server. In this work, we develop a technique for blinding the stored biometric template such that the authentication server never observes biometric information in the clear, and cannot accidentally leak this information in the event of a breach. We show how our blinding technique can be combined with the privacy-preserving GSHADE protocol to privately compare biometric feature vectors using a variety of distance metrics with negligible overhead in computation time. We then construct a complete privacy-preserving remote fingerprint authentication system based on the Euclidean Distance metric, and show that a user can authenticate using privacy-preserving techniques in as little as 1.5 seconds. This work provides a template for designing low-cost blinding techniques for biometric authentication systems, and shows a practical use-case for secure multiparty computation protocols in remote authentication systems.

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CryptoLock (and drop it): Stopping ransomware attacks on user data 2016 IEEE 36th International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems (ICDCS)


Ransomware is a growing threat that encrypts auser's files and holds the decryption key until a ransom ispaid by the victim. This type of malware is responsible fortens of millions of dollars in extortion annually. Worse still, developing new variants is trivial, facilitating the evasion of manyantivirus and intrusion detection systems. In this work, we presentCryptoDrop, an early-warning detection system that alerts a userduring suspicious file activity. Using a set of behavior indicators, CryptoDrop can halt a process that appears to be tampering witha large amount of the user's data. Furthermore, by combininga set of indicators common to ransomware, the system can beparameterized for rapid detection with low false positives. Ourexperimental analysis of CryptoDrop stops ransomware fromexecuting with a median loss of only 10 files (out of nearly5,100 available files). Our results show that careful analysis ofransomware behavior can produce an effective detection systemthat significantly mitigates the amount of victim data loss.

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Secure Outsourced Garbled Circuit Evaluation for Mobile Devices Journal of Computer Security (JCS),24(2):137-180

H. Carter, B. Mood, P. Traynor, K. Butler

Outsourcing secure multiparty computation (SMC) protocols has allowed resource-constrained devices to take advantage of these developing cryptographic primitives with great efficiency. While the existing constructions for outsourced SMC guarantee input and output privacy, they require that all parties know the function being evaluated. Thus, stronger security guarantees are necessary in applications where the function itself needs to be kept private. We develop the first linear-complexity protocols for outsourcing private function evaluation (PFE), a subset of SMC protocols that provide both input and function privacy. Assuming a semi-honest function holder, we build on the most efficient two- party PFE constructions to develop outsourced protocols that are secure against a semi-honest, covert, or malicious Cloud server and malicious mobile devices providing input to the function. Our protocols require minimal symmetric key operations and only two rounds of communication from the mobile participants. To make these protocols possible, we develop a technique for combining public and private sub-circuits in a single computation called partially-circuit private (PCP) garbling. This novel garbling technique allows us to apply auxiliary circuits to check for malicious behavior using only free-XOR overhead gates rather than the significantly more costly PFE gate construction. These protocols demonstrate the feasibility of outsourced PFE and provide a first step towards developing privacy-preserving applications for use in Cloud computing.