Feigenbaum on Cryptographic Computing and Her Mission

Professor Joan Feigenbaum: Research-wise, I think what’s most interesting right now is “cryptographic computing.” The goal is to be able to compute on encrypted data, or more generally, to be able to perform a computation on sensitive data without actually revealing the data to the computer that is performing the computation ...

Feigenbaum on Tor/Dissent/PriFi

Thoughts on Anonymous Communication, Privacy, and Accountability. Includes a discussion of the Dissent system described in her paper with Professor Bryan Ford at EPFL titled “Seeking anonymity in an internet panopticon.”

Professor Joan Feigenbaum: What’s out there now, by way of usable anonymous-communications tools, is Tor. Onion routing is very clever, and Tor is a very impressive system, but it is trying to be a perfectly general Internet substrate for all kinds of anonymous activity. Professor Ford and I both think that that’s probably not realistic. A lot of the intersection attacks and traffic-confirmation attacks - the ones that make Tor not quite as secure against de-anonymization attacks as people wish it were - are in some sense natural concomitants of perfect generality ...

Feigenbaum on Personal Data

Vivek Gopalan: We see that in the Internet Age, government has authorized themselves with the ability to surveil and collect personal data etc. What do you think, as an individual, are important things to do to ensure one's own data security? And tangentially related, should we have a right to sell our own data and commercialize it if we so wish?

Professor Joan Feigenbaum: I don’t have a straightforward answer to those questions. It depends entirely on what you mean by “ensure one’s own data security.” It is feasible for a tech-savvy individual who owns a particular dataset to secure it. Once you identify such a dataset, you can encrypt it and store it offline - not on a networked machine. If you have to send it to someone, then figure out a way to do so in which the data never have to be in the clear (unencrypted) on a networked machine. For example, if the entire encrypted dataset fits on a high-density handheld storage device, just (physically) send that device to the recipient, and send them the decryption key on a separate, secure channel (perhaps on its own physical device). The recipient should ...

Joan Feigenbaum – Her Start in Computer Science

Vivek Gopalan: So how did your interest in computer science initially begin and how did it change during your time in college? Can you describe the differences in the field back then and now. 

Professor Joan Feigenbaum: I was an undergraduate math major at Harvard, and I was somewhat unusual among math majors in that I didn’t have a strong math background going in...