Mikhail Atallah Mikhail ("Mike") Atallah's recent research focus has been on secure protocols, information hiding, software security, and intrusion detection.

He has designed, with his students, many protocols for secure and privacy-preserving cooperative computations. This is the framework where multiple parties are interacting online for the purpose of cooperatively carrying out a computation or achieving desired system-wide goals without revealing the private information of any of the parties, even though the jointly-computed answers and decisions depend on the information of all the parties. He has also designed protocols for the related framework in which all the data is with a single party, but that party has very little computing power and needs to use some other party's computational resources without revealing to the latter its own data or the answer to the computation. This differs primarily in the asymmetry of computing power (whereas no such asymmetry was assumed for the previous framework): One side now has very little computing power (but has all the data), while the other side has plenty of it (but has no data). This "secure outsourcing of computations" is applicable to mobile computing, sensors, and any other situation where there are weak computational devices that need to carry out heavy-duty computing by using the computational power of a powerful but untrusted server, without revealing to the latter either their data or the computed answer.

He has also designed, with his student Kevin Du, protocols for private database access with approximate searching, where a server has a database on which a client wants to perform a query of the "approximate searching" kind. He has designed, with his student Florian Kerschbaum, protocols for private remote biometric matching (where two fingerprints are compared without either fingerprint being revealed to the other party), and for the string-edit types of computations that arise in biological sequence comparisons.

In joint work with his CERIAS colleague Victor Raskin and their students, he gave the first resilient scheme for watermarking natural language text. The watermark remains even after translation to a foreign language, because it is embedded in the semantic tree structure of the text. The techniques also work for steganography, where the very existence of the mark has to be concealed, and also for tamper-detection. Other contributions to watermarking include work with his student Radu Sion on watermarking relational databases, numeric sets, and XML documents, and a technique designed with Stefano Lonardi for marking (for the purpose of authentication) LZ-77 compressed data.

Professor Atallah received a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation in 1985. A Fellow of the IEEE, he has served on many top computer science journal editorial boards (eight in total), and was on the program committees of twenty-five international conferences and workshops (including seven as chair or co-chair). He was "Distinguished lecture series" speaker at six top research universities, and was keynote and invited speaker at seventeen international conferences and workshops. In 1999 he was selected as one of the best teachers in the history of Purdue University and included in Purdue's Book of Great Teachers, a permanent wall display of 200 Purdue teachers past and present. In June 2001 he co-founded Arxan Technologies Inc., a startup in the software security products space, that in 2002 secured funding from a top-tier venture capital firm.