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Faculty Profiles

Hovav Shacham

Assoc Professor, Computer Science and Engineering

Applied cryptography, systems security, and tech policy

Dr. Shacham’s research interests are in applied cryptography, systems security, and tech policy. He is one of the pioneers in using pairings—computable bilinear maps over certain elliptic curves—to construct cryptographic systems. Using parings, he has built more efficient, more practical cryptosystems than previously avaiable; for example, an efficient authentication mechanism for securing communication in car-to-car ad-hoc safety networks. In recent security research, Dr. Shacham called into question the effectiveness of security measures introduced by Microsoft in Windows XP and Vista. Preventing a hacker from loading machine code onto a computer system will not keep him from being able to direct that system to perform actions of his choice. The hacker can leverage machine code that was already present (for example, the code implementing the application being attacked) by building his desired functionality by joining together many small snippets of that code.

Capsule Bio:

Hovav Shacham joined UC San Diego’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering in Fall 2007. Shacham received his Ph.D. in computer science in 2005 from Stanford University, where he had also earned, in 2000, an A.B. in English. His Ph.D. advisor was Dan Boneh. His thesis, “New Paradigms in Signature Schemes,” was runner up for the Stanford Department of Computer Science’s Arthur L. Samuel Thesis Award, and was nominated for the ACM Doctoral Dissertation Competition. In 2006 and 2007, he was a Koshland Scholars Program postdoctoral fellow at the Weizmann Institute of Science, hosted by Moni Naor. At the Weizmann, Shacham taught a survey on pairings in cryptography, one of the first such courses to be offered. In 2007, Shacham participated in California Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s “Top-to-Bottom” of the voting machines certified for use in California. He was a member of the team reviewing Hart InterCivic source code; the report he co-authored was cited by the Secretary in her decision to withdraw approval from Hart voting machines.

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Hovav Shacham
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