$3 Million NSF Grant to Fund Softphone Research


The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded a $3 million grant to support a new research project at Boston University, “Securing the Open Softphone.”

Professor Mark Karpovsky
Professor Mark Karpovsky

Three ECE faculty members – Mark Karpovsky, David Starobinski and Ari Trachtenberg – will be members of the research team that will study the new threats and promises of softphones – phones that are programmable with software.

Members of the broad and diverse research team will come from three Boston University departments and include the following professors:

CAS CS: Mark Crovella, Sharon Goldberg, Steven Homer, Leonid Reyzin and Nikolaos Triandopoulos

MET CS: Stoyanka Zlateva

Professor David Starobinski
Professor David Starobinski

Softphones are increasingly used to maintain users’ electronic identities, calendars, social networks and even bank accounts. New security issues and opportunities have arisen as softphones became more flexible.

The research project will focus on two broad risk categories: threats to individual users (such as user privacy or personal finances) and threats to the entire communication system (such as disruptions to emergency services).

Professor Ari Trachtenberg
Professor Ari Trachtenberg

The project ultimately aims to understand how security problems associated with softphones and their networks are different from those of traditional computers and networks. The study will also seek ways to harness the unique capabilities of softphones for improved security.

The nine faculty members will collaborate with international industry and academic partners at the Center for Reliable Information Systems and Cyber Security (RISCS) at Boston University.

Industrial partners for the project include Deutsche Telekom and the Raytheon Company’s BBN Technologies and Boston University will also partner with the University of Warwick on the project.

Read more about the grant.

-Rachel Harrington (rachelah@bu.edu)