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Professor Florian Kerschbaum awarded $120k NSERC DAC award

Monday, September 11, 2017

portrait of Professor Florian KerschbaumProfessor Florian Kerschbaum received a $120,000 Discovery Accelerator Supplement from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council for a proposal titled “Systems for computation on encrypted data.”

Cloud computing — the use of a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage and process data — is becoming increasingly commonplace. But for many businesses and organizations, the loss of control and possible disclosure of private information, coupled with threats from malicious insiders and motivated hackers, prevent widespread adoption of cloud computing.

Recent developments offer a potential solution by encrypting data before sending it to the cloud. The problem, however, is that existing software, which comprises the majority of code, is too difficult to retrofit with current encryption techniques.

With support from this award, Kerschbaum and his graduate students will develop new methods that preserve existing programming interfaces and languages, such as Java and SQL, while allowing them to compile to versions running on strongly encrypted data.

“Florian’s group is developing the foundation to run existing interactive applications in the cloud using encrypted data,” said Mark Giesbrecht, Director of the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. “Their research is of great significance to Canada, as it both demonstrates excellence in a very active research area as well as aims to provide a major step forward for industrial cloud computing.”

Kerschbaum is one of 12 Waterloo researchers to receive the prestigious Discovery Accelerator Supplement award, supplemental funding to support research identified by NSERC as on the verge of a breakthrough.