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Computer Science Professor Works on Outsmarting Hackers

Computer science professor Michael Sherr

Micah Sherr's research focuses on outsmarting hackers and cybercriminals who try to break into systems that people depend upon daily.

December 10, 2010 –Computer science assistant professor Micah Sherr is on the cutting edge of making computer systems more secure.

His research focuses on outsmarting hackers and cybercriminals who try to break into systems that people depend upon daily.

“I have the best job,” Sherr says. “I research cutting-edge technology, I’m largely my own boss, and I work with students who are excited to learn.”

Cloud Nine

Sherr and researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California at Berkeley presented a paper at the International Workshop on Cloud Data Management in Toronto this past October.

The research deals with “cloud-based” technologies, which let users access applications such as Microsoft Word or Excel on centralized servers rather than installing hundreds of copies of the application on individual desktop machines.

Putting the applications on a central server makes them easier to manage and update and is less costly. But it also raises more security concerns.

Protecting Privacy

The paper’s authors argue that efforts should be focused more on securing the data users store in the “cloud” and how that data is shared between users, rather than focusing on securing individual servers.

“The cloud model of computing allows companies to more easily share their data and integrate their services,” explains Sherr, who teaches a class on Internet.

“My research investigates mechanisms for protecting the privacy of data in the cloud as well as for tracing how that information is being shared.”

New Doctoral Program

The potential for continued research and the enthusiasm of students in the computer science department drew Sherr to the Hilltop this year.

“When I was interviewing for positions, the Georgetown students stuck out immensely,” he says. “They’re bright, energetic and interested in research. “

A new Ph.D. program is slated to begin next fall.

“The computer science program is growing and is on a huge upward trajectory,” Sherr explains. “I wanted to get in on the ground floor.”

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