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CIs Seminar: “Privacy-Preserving Systems for a Data-Driven World”

March 28 at 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

The potential of data to transform science and society has spurred unparalleled efforts to collect it in increasingly sensitive and granular forms, which has raised a variety of societal concerns about how this data is handled and used. Though today, at-rest and in-transit encryption are standard practices, these alone are insufficient to address the security and privacy needs of emerging complex data-driven applications in inherently privacy-sensitive domains. Moreover, these applications frequently require sharing and disclosing data for legitimate reasons. Nonetheless, prevailing data-sharing practices in these systems often disregard privacy considerations, leading to numerous instances of data misuse and abuse.

In the past few decades, cryptographers have developed an array of theoretical techniques that, in principle, could address the security and privacy needs of these applications, including secure computation and privacy-enhancing techniques. The increasing urgency in addressing security and privacy concerns within these complex environments has generated a growing demand for the transition of these theoretical techniques into practice. While these techniques promise to enhance privacy and security for sensitive data, realizing their full potential in practice remains a challenging task.


In this talk, I will present my work on developing systems and abstractions that simplify the use of advanced cryptographic techniques for enhancing data privacy, making them accessible to a broader audience and feasible to apply in complex settings. Additionally, I will discuss my work on bringing the advantages of these techniques to challenging and resource-constrained environments. Throughout the talk, I will discuss the prevalent challenges of efficiency, functionality, and accessibility in this research area, my approach to addressing these challenges, and future directions that will help bring cryptography and privacy tools to a broader range of applications.

Anwar Hithnawi

Research fellow and principal investigator at ETH Zurich's Department of Computer Science,

 Anwar Hithnawi is a research fellow and principal investigator at ETH Zurich’s Department of Computer Science, where she heads the Privacy-Preserving Systems Lab. Her research interests encompass data privacy, applied cryptography, and systems, with a current focus on usable cryptography and privacy-preserving systems. Prior to this, Anwar was a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley. She received her doctoral degree in computer science from ETH Zurich. Her research has been adopted by organizations such as Intel and Google. She is the recipient of an SNSF Ambizione grant, Facebook and Google Research Awards, an SNSF Postdoctoral Fellowship, and the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship. 


March 28
3:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Event Tags:


Computer and Information Science
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Wu and Chen Auditorium (Room 101), Levine Hall
3330 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104 United States
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