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Andrew Ferraiuolo receives ECE Outstanding Thesis Research Award

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The School of Electrical and Computer Engineering is pleased to announce Andrew Ferraiuolo as the 2018 ECE Outstanding Thesis Research Award. Ferraiuolo is an advisee of Associate Professor G. Edward Suh.

Ferraiuolo’s thesis enables future hardware designs to provide formal security guarantees through information flow control. His work is focused on developing a practical, expressive hardware description language for enforcing information flow control in hardware designs and in designing secure hardware architecture suitable for information flow verification. 

“Developing secure processors has become increasingly important,” says Ferraiuolo. “The promise of recent commercial security architectures such as Intel SGX is compelling because the system remains secure even if low-level software such as the operating system is compromised.”

Unfortunately, hardware is itself complex and error-prone, software-exploitable vulnerabilities in SGX have already been found and bugs in hardware have a long history of causing security vulnerabilities. With the advent of cyber-physical systems and self-driving cars, hardware vulnerabilities can present life-threatening risks. There is a need for tools that produce hardware that is secure by construction and that provide formal guarantees. 

"We are increasingly relying on computing systems to handle sensitive information and control safety-critical operations,” said Suh. “Yet, how to build a secure computing system that we can truly trust remains an open question. I am particularly excited about Andrew's work because it shows how we can build a practical microprocessor with strong formal assurance for information flow security. This verifiably secure processor provides a dependable hardware foundation for building secure computing systems that can be trusted for critical tasks."

Ferraiuolo received Bachelors of Science degrees in Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering (Magna Cum Laude) from the University of Connecticut in 2012. Shortly afterwards, he began the PhD program in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University where he is advised by G. Edward Suh. He has interned with Microsoft Research Labs in Redmond, Washington. His research lies at the intersection of computer security, computer architecture, and programing languages.

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