Monday, November 16, 2015

Hi from Raz

Almost 50 years ago, a visionary psychologist, Stanley Milgram, questioned the scientific world with a small-world problem that was later named as the Six Degree Of Separation experiment. He sent several packages to 160 randomly chosen persons living in Omaha, Nebraska, asking them to forward the package to a friend who they thought would bring it closer to the destination: Boston, Massachusetts. Milgram tracked the packages and found out that the average distance (in terms of persons) between the sender and the receiver was five (resulting in six degrees of separation).

Two years later, ARPANET became one of the first operational computer networks. Meanwhile, more and more computer networks were interconnected and their size gave birth to new questions related to Milgram's experiment: by 2015, it is reported that 43% of world's population is using the Internet and the estimated degree of separation between two users of a notorious social network is 4. Why is this possible? Simply, because there is a set of tools (browsers, scripting/markup languages) allowing people to communicate and explore the extending virtual jungle (the Internet). Nowadays, many Internet users store data online through storage providers and more and more questions are related to the privacy of these data.

The main topic of my research project is functional encryption and the fundamental question that motivated my project is the way we can access the data stored by third parties. As an owner of an email address with emails stored on “cloud”, I would like to prevent a third party reading my messages, while preserving many existing functions (e.g. email searches, enabling spam filters). A desired solution is to have a way to control what a trusted authority should see on the data I store. Functional encryption comes with solutions to this problem. The long-term desired objective of my project is to investigate the potential of functional encryption in tackling such problems.

I consider myself very lucky to work in the Crypto Team - CASCADE, and to be part of the ECRYPT-NET project. I hold a master degree (incorporating bachelor) in Computing.

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