Hasini Gunasinghe Wins IBM Ph.D. Fellowship
Writer(s): Kristyn Childres
Graduate student Hasini Gunasinghe is a recipient of IBM’s Ph.D. fellowship. The award honors Ph.D. students who have an interest in solving problems that are important to IBM and to the field, including security, blockchain, quantum computing, and augmented intelligence.
During her graduate study at Purdue, Gunasinghe and her advisor, Elisa Bertino, created RahasNym, a pseudonymous identity management system that lets users carry out secure and unlinkable online transactions without fear of identity theft and privacy breaches. With this solution, service providers no longer need to maintain and protect repositories of the user identity information (like credit card numbers and email addresses), which are often targets of attacks. The system prevents linkability to users’ real identities, yet preserves accountability for their transactions. It has low performance overhead and requires almost no architectural changes to existing transaction systems, making it relatively easy for service providers to adopt.
Gunasinghe and Bertino also designed and developed PrivBioMTAuth, a biometrics-based remote authentication protocol that allows users to authenticate to a remote service provider from their mobile phones while preserving privacy. Authentication is based on a cryptographic identity token that encodes the biometric identifier of the user and a secret provided by the user.
Last summer, during an internship with IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Lab, Gunasinghe developed a privacy-preserving protocol for a blockchain-based application.
“I am delighted to have received this fellowship, which will be a great support for my research work during the rest of my Ph.D. journey," Gunasinghe said. "I would like to thank my mentor, my manager, my team members, and my colleagues who were so helpful during my internship at IBM. I am also very thankful to my advisor, Professor Elisa Bertino, who has been thoughtfully guiding me during my research journey from day one of my Ph.D. program."
Gunasinghe also serves as a project coordinator for Purdue’s undergraduate software engineering and senior software engineering courses. She has won awards for her teaching.