(Purdue Computer Science News) - Assistant professor Aniket Kate of the Department of Computer Science has received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). CAREER awards are the organization’s most prestigious awards given to junior faculty who embody the role of teacher-scholars through research, education and the integration of those concepts within the mission of their organizations. NSF CAREER awards support promising and talented researchers in building a foundation for a lifetime of leadership. Receiving this award reflects this project’s merit of the NSF statutory mission and its worthiness of financial support.
Kate received the CAREER award for his project, “Towards Privacy and Availability of Inter-blockchain Communication.” Kate believes blockchains represent more than a financial innovation as there are innovative public or private blockchain solutions for supply chains, the “Internet of Things,” and beyond. In a highly inter-connected world, these solutions will soon have to interact with each other. Kate believes this will eventually result in formation of a network of blockchains where transactions flow across disparate blockchains. Some industrial efforts have begun in this direction, though Kate notes the scientific rigor is missing and privacy and availability issues are pervasive. Kate’s project formally defines inter-blockchain communication (IBC), offering different privacy and availability trade-offs, and securely develops low-overhead cryptographic and/or crypto-economic solutions. The project’s novelties include careful abstractions of IBC primitives, efficient protocol designs, and security analyses for the proposed tools and protocols. As blockchains become connected, there are numerous advances in the form of access technologies (e.g., blockchain counterparts of Internet transport protocols) offering robust, secure, and privacy-preserving communication platforms. Kate concludes the current altruism in the blockchain space will fade out and malicious activities could become prevalent, therefore this project’s principled approach will become a necessity for inter-blockchain interactions.
This research designs and implements privacy-preserving IBC protocols in the presence of malicious or crash-prone connector nodes, as well as large-scale active network-level attackers. The project also studies the inverse relationships between privacy and non-blocking progress and non-source routing and wormhole attacks. Kate’s project develops a privacy-aware blueprint and open-source code-base to form the basis of the transactions across the blockchains. By improving the fundamental understanding of privacy and availability of IBC, this project will enable end-to-end security which could ultimately enhance public confidence in the technology and lead to rapid acceptance of decentralized and highly-available asset tracking across different domains.
Before joining Purdue in 2015, Kate was a junior faculty member at Saarland University, Germany. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Max Planck Institute for Software Systems (MPI-SWS), Germany. He received his PhD from the University of Waterloo, Canada, and his masters from IIT-Bombay, India. He is an applied cryptographer and a privacy researcher. His research builds on and expands applied cryptography, distributed computing, and data-driven analysis to solve security/privacy problems in decentralized environments.