Interview with Lisa and Matz – Halfway through their Master Thesis

During 2018 the students Liza and Matz have worked with their Master Thesis at Scionova. They are writing about the security of Smart Home Devices and are currently about halfway through the thesis. Read our interview with them.

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How does it feel to hit the halfway mark?

Matz: It feels really good. Especially since it means we have done most of the hard work with background theory and report output. Now the more practical (and for me, fun) parts such as prototype design and implementation are the focus of our work.

Lisa: It feels great! It means that not much is left of either the thesis project or the time at Chalmers. It has been an exciting but though five years, and it is nice to finally see a concrete end to my academic endeavors.

You are writing your Master Thesis about Security of Smart Home Devices, why did you choose that topic?

Matz: I have always been interested in tech tools that can do everyday life more fun and easy. With the rising market of smart homes, this becomes easier, and I’ve got a bunch of smart home sensors and actuators at home. However, I’m a little bit worried about the security issues. Therefore it seemed like a good idea to do thesis work on something that could affect my everyday life and not just the thesis itself!

Lisa: Security in smart homes is a relevant and exciting topic, with many challenging problem areas. It also ties in well with my masters at Chalmers, as I have focused on distributed systems and security. Smart home is a great topic combining my main focus areas.

Do you have connected devices at home?

Matz: As previously states, yes! I have got a few smart lights, two dimmers, some smart plugs and a home-built control system which includes arcade buttons, RFID sensor, control lights, a led display… Well, just it is just an awesome box of all sorts of controls. I have plans to install some sort of temperature system this winter too. Did I mention the sound system? Well, I like tech toys.

Lisa: I have a few devices at home, but nothing spectacular. I’m living fairly cramped, so I don’t have space for too many toys to clutter up the little available space that I do have.

Are you worried about safety in connected devices? If so, why?

Matz: Yes, especially after this Master Thesis. There are many examples of companies trying to make cheap products and hence ignoring security. Hopefully, the market will mature and implement more security principles soon, but in the meantime, we have to try to protect ourselves against these threats in other ways. That is where our security supervisor comes in!

Lisa: At-large, yes. There is little consensus on security in the industry and little awareness among many users. More focus on securing these growing systems is necessary, I think they will become a liability to the Internet otherwise. There’s a lot of severe risks associated with unsecured networked devices.

How do you arrange/split the work between the two of you?

Both: We do most of the work in close communication. Since we sit in the same office it is easy to bring up any questions or comments in any phase of the work.

Why did you choose to do your Master thesis at Scionova?

Matz: Scionova felt like a good, friendly and knowledgeable company. I have not been disappointed!

Lisa: Scionova proposed an interesting thesis topic and I couldn’t resist. It ticked all the boxes for what I wanted for my thesis project.

Soon you will be finished with your studies at Chalmers. What are your plans after graduation?

Matz: I have one course left to take in order to get my Science of Masters degree. In January 2019 it is time to start working at Scionova!

Lisa: After graduation, I plan to join the team at Scionova!