NEW YORK – Cornell Tech announced on Thursday, December 10, the formation of one of the world’s leading research groups specializing in cybersecurity, privacy and cryptography. All four scientists in the group are known for their influence on industry, non-profit and government practice, as well as for their highly-cited and award-winning research results.

Their work spans a wide range of topics including data encryption, cryptography, cryptocurrency, machine-learning and Internet of Things privacy and security. To a degree unusual for an academic-based research team, the Cornell Tech Security Group (CTSG) will consult regularly with industry practitioners to drive and inform both best practices and the group’s own research.

“Cybersecurity touches nearly every aspect of our daily lives, from consumer privacy to the security of corporations and governments and, increasingly, to criminal investigations,” said Cornell Tech Dean Dan Huttenlocher. “The Cornell Tech Security Group brings together four of the world’s leading cybersecurity experts as they identify new vulnerabilities and advance the state of the art in modern security.”

Team members’ current efforts include: “Honey Encryption,” the use of decoys and deception to make encrypted data harder to access even if stolen; a focus on keeping enterprise-setting passwords secure in the event of a system breach; the design of a truly anonymous survey system, far more secure than common, web-based questionnaire services; and the development of a system for preserving privacy in deep learning, particularly when applied to sensitive data. 

The four members of the CTSG: 

  • Ari Juels is a co-director of IC3 (Initiative for CryptoCurrencies and Contracts), which is based at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech, where he is also a professor. He was previously the Chief Scientist of RSA, the security division of EMC, the leading provider of intelligence-driven security solutions. His recent areas of work include cloud security, defensive uses of deception, security for machine learning, cryptocurrencies and smart contracts.
  • Rafael Pass is an associate professor of Computer Science at Cornell University and Cornell Tech. His research focuses on cryptography and game theory and their interplay with computational complexity. He is a recipient of the NSF Career Award, the AFOSR Young Investigator Award and the Google Faculty Award. He was named an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, a Microsoft Faculty Fellow and a Wallenberg Academy Fellow.
  • Thomas Ristenpart is an associate professor of Computer Science at Cornell University and Cornell Tech. His research spans a wide range of computer security topics, with recent focuses on new threats to, and improved opportunities for, cloud computing security, as well as topics in applied and theoretical cryptography. He received the U.C. San Diego Computer Science and Engineering Department Dissertation Award, an NSF CAREER Award, Best Paper Award at USENIX Security 2014 and a Sloan Research Fellowship.
  • Vitaly Shmatikov is a professor of Computer Science at Cornell University and Cornell Tech. His research areas are security and privacy. He received the PET Award for Outstanding Research in Privacy Enhancing Technologies twice, in 2008 and 2014. Shmatikov's research group won the Best Practical Paper or Best Student Paper Awards at the 2012, 2013 and 2014 IEEE Symposiums on Security and Privacy ("Oakland"), as well as the NYU-Poly AT&T Best Applied Security Paper Award, NDSS Best Student Paper Award, and the CCS Test-of-Time Award.

About Cornell Tech

Cornell Tech develops pioneering leaders and technologies for the digital age. Cornell Tech brings together faculty, business leaders, tech entrepreneurs, and students in a catalytic environment to produce visionary results grounded in significant needs that will reinvent the way we live in the digital age. Cornell Tech’s temporary campus has been up and running at Google’s Chelsea building since 2012, with a growing world-class faculty, and over 150 master’s and Ph.D. students who collaborate extensively with tech-oriented companies and organizations and pursue their own start-ups. Construction is underway on Cornell Tech’s campus on Roosevelt Island, with a first phase due to open in 2017. When fully completed, the campus will include 2 million square feet of state-of-the-art buildings, over 2 acres of open space, and will be home to more than 2,000 graduate students and hundreds of faculty and staff.