The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Department of Computer Science and Engineering


Towards providing digital immunity to humanitarian organizations


February 23, 2018 (Friday)


11:00am – 12:00nn


Room 121, 1/F, Ho Sin-hang Engineering Building,
The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 
Shatin, N.T.
Dr. Stevens Le Blond
Research Scientist
Éole polytechnique férale de Lausanne (EPFL)


Humanitarian action, the process of aiding individuals in situations of crises, poses unique information-security challenges due to natural or manmade disasters, the adverse environments in which it takes place, and the scale and multi-disciplinary nature of the problems. Despite these challenges, humanitarian organizations are transitioning towards a strong reliance on digitalization of collected data and digital tools, which improves their effectiveness but also exposes them to computer
security threats. This talk presents the first academic effort seeking to understand and address the computer-security challenges associated with digitalizing humanitarian action.

First, I will describe a qualitative analysis of the computer-security challenges of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), a large humanitarian organization with over sixteen thousand employees, legal privileges and immunities, and over 150 years of experience with armed conflicts and other situations of violence worldwide. Second, I will present a research agenda to design and implement anonymity networks, block chains, and secure-processing systems addressing these challenges, and to deploy them in collaboration with the ICRC. I will close with a discussion on how to generalize our approach to provide digital immunity to humanitarian and other at-risk organizations.


After having enjoyed sun bathing at INRIA Sophia-Antipolis, and actual bathing at the MPI-SWS, Stevens is now skiing in Switzerland where he's a research scientist at EPFL. His Ph.D. thesis on the privacy analysis of the Skype protocol has led to privacy enhancements of the Skype architecture which is daily used by hundreds of millions of users. His post-graduate work on anonymity networks was qualified of the “[next generation] anonymity network closest to deployment” by ArsTechnica. He is one of the first academic researchers to have studied the computer security practices of politically-motivated attackers and their targets. His research has been published in leading conferences such as Oakland, Usenix Security, NDSS, SIGCOMM, and IMC.

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