Papamanthou Receives $500K NSF Grant on Advanced Data Structures and Security

Charalampos “Babis” Papamanthou, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering with appointments in UMIACS and the Maryland Cybersecurity Center (MC2), was recently awarded a $500,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant on advanced data structures and security.

Data structures are often used in database querying, web searching, social network analysis, and navigation maps. New discoveries by Papamanthou and others could have applications to a broad range of online services used by businesses and consumers, such as authenticating data in outsourced documents like Google Docs and Gmail services, or allowing users to perform searches over encrypted emails.

The project aims to fulfill two objectives, says Papamanthou: First is to develop new techniques for ensuring authenticity of data structures maintained on a remote server, including both the elements of the dataset as well as their inter-relationships (e.g., links between pairs of nodes in a social network). The research will also seek to develop new data structures to improve the efficiency of algorithms for security and privacy applications.

Research will encompass algorithm design, theoretical analysis, rigorous proofs of correctness, and experimental validation of claims of practicality.

The main challenge being addressed, Papamanthou says, is that the data-driven focus of many modern applications also raises security and privacy issues, since such applications often involve sensitive data or third-party relationships with potentially untrusted entities.

“Increasing trust in web-based document storage and management services will enable new distributed applications that offer strong data integrity and privacy assurances,” he says.

The research will be conducted jointly with Michael T. Goodrich from the University of California and Roberto Tamassia from Brown University, who are co-principal investigators on the award.

The project also includes curriculum development for introductory computer security courses and the incorporation of new cybersecurity techniques in a second edition of a computer security textbook co-authored by Tamassia and Goodrich.

—Story by Melissa Brachfeld

Published September 22, 2015