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Aug. 25: Carnegie Mellon's Lorrie Cranor Receives NSF Funding For Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in Privacy and Security


Chriss Swaney
Byron Spice

Carnegie Mellon's Lorrie Cranor Receives NSF Funding
For Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in Privacy and Security

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University's Lorrie Cranor and her colleagues received a five-year, $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a Ph.D. program in usable privacy and security.
"Carnegie Mellon's CyLab Usable Privacy and Security (CUPS) Doctoral Training Program will offer Ph.D. students a new cross-disciplinary training experience that helps them produce solutions to ongoing tensions between security, privacy and usability," said Cranor, associate professor in the Institute for Software Research, the Department of Engineering and Public Policy and Carnegie Mellon CyLab — one of the largest university-based cybersecurity education and research centers in the world.
Cranor said the CUPS doctoral training program is designed to give students both classroom learning as well as collaborative research training with teams of mentors from different disciplines, internships and summer seminars. 
Michelle Mazurek, one of the Ph.D. students selected to participate in the new program, said she was elated and honored to be selected to participate.
"This is a wonderful opportunity because the program will help me continue my research into improving home security systems," said Mazurek, a student in Carnegie Mellon's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. The Philadelphia native is helping design systems that allow home computer users to access their files from any computer device in their household while ensuring that their files cannot be accessed by other people without their permission.
Patrick Kelly of Tonawanda, N.Y., also said the new program will dovetail nicely with his privacy research. "I'm looking at how to improve the often arcane privacy policies all shoppers experience when surfing the Internet," said Kelly, a Ph.D. student at the Institute for Software Research in the School of Computer Science.  "We would ultimately like to create a standard format for privacy rules."
Cranor said students will be expected to be actively involved in Carnegie Mellon's broad usable privacy and security research, which spans three major approaches: finding ways to build systems that "just work" without involving humans in security-critical functions; finding ways of making secure systems intuitive and easy to use; and finding ways to effectively teach humans how to perform security-critical tasks.
"Internet users are told that they need to install anti-virus software and spam filters and follow all sorts of security rules, and come up with lots of complex passwords that they are not supposed to write down. Users are feeling overwhelmed, and we need to find ways of helping them stay safe," Cranor said.
The new CUPS program funded through the NSF's Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program is now available to Ph.D. students across the university, including the programs in Computation, Organizations and Society, Engineering and Public Policy, Human Computer Interaction, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Public Policy and Management.
Core faculty in the program include Alessandro Acquisti, an assistant professor of information technology and policy in the H. John Heinz III College and CyLab researcher; Lujo Bauer, a research scientist with Carnegie Mellon CyLab and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department; Nicolas Christian, associate director in the Information Networking Institute and CyLab researcher; Julie Downs, a research scientist in the Social and Decision Sciences Department; Jason Hong, an assistant professor in the Human Computer Interaction Institute; Norman Sadeh, a professor in the Institute for Software Research and CyLab researcher; and Marios Savvides, director of the Carnegie Mellon CyLab Biometrics Center and a research scientist in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
For additional information, see