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CyLab researcher Bryan Parno wins ACM 2010 Doctoral Dissertation Award

posted by Richard Power
May 17, 2011

CyLab researcher Bryan Parno has won the 2010 Doctoral Dissertation Award from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Bryan Parno

In his Carnegie Mellon University doctoral thesis, Trust Extension as a Mechanism for Secure Code Execution on Commodity Computers, Parno leverages the trust users have in one device to enable secure use of another device or service without sacrificing performance or features. Parno then extended the secure code execution on individual computers to computations performed on a remote host, like the cloud.

In its announcement, ACM applauded Parno for his work toward “resolving the tension between adequate security protections and the features and performance that users expect in a digitized world.”

Parno developed techniques to allow users to employ a small, trusted portable device to securely learn what code is executing on a local computer. He constructed an on-demand secure execution environment, which can perform security-sensitive tasks and handle private data in complete isolation from all other software and most hardware on the system. By extending trust in this environment to network elements in a secure, efficient manner, he was able to reexamine the design of network protocols and defenses, while non-security-sensitive software retained its abundance of features and the performance common to today’s commodity computers.

Going a step further, Parno then designed, analyzed, and proved secure a protocol that allows users to outsource arbitrary computations to commodity computers run by untrusted remote parties who may subject the computers to both software and hardware attacks. This approach guarantees that users can both verify the correct results of the specified computations on the inputs, and protect the secrecy of the inputs and outputs of the computations.

A graduate of Harvard University with a Computer Science major, Parno joined Microsoft Research, where he is pursuing a range of security topics as well as operating system design, distributed systems, and mobile computing.

The $20,000 prize, financially sponsored by Google, Inc., will be presented to Parno at the annual ACM Awards Banquet on June 4, in San Jose, CA.

Full text of ACM press release Parno’s doctoral thesis.

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