NSF Grant Funds Search for Ways to Ensure Data Authenticity

Researchers at UT Dallas are part of a $3 million collaborative grant from the National Science Foundation to study ways to ensure the authenticity and confidentiality of data—which can include everything from patient information to financial records.

The grant will fund a multi-university investigation that includes researchers from UT San Antonio and Purdue University.

Dr. Murat Kantarcioglu

“Source – or provenance – of data is important in establishing trust in data, and trustworthy data is needed for making right decisions in many fields ranging from health care to national security,” said Dr. Murat Kantarcioglu, director of the UT Dallas Data Security and Privacy Lab, and a co-investigator on the project.

“Our role in this project is to build privacy policies for provenance data. We want to enable these policies to protect certain sensitive paths in the flow of information so that provenance could be used to assess the trustworthiness of data without violating the privacy,” he said.

Cybersecurity experts working in the realm of assured data provenance work to improve the authenticity and safe transfer of information, so when a physician in Chicago receives information about a patient in Dallas, the data received is verified and unaltered. Or when you log onto your bank account, you know the data you see is from an authenticated source.

“We are working to ensure that history cannot be rewritten,” Kantarcioglu said. “With the increased need of data sharing among multiple organizations, governments, banks, hospitals and the like, it is critical to ensure that data is trustworthy for the purposes of decision making.”

Kantarcioglu added that goals of the project include developing protocols to increase the trustworthiness of online data as it is transmitted and processed.

UTSA, UT Dallas and Purdue began collaborating on assured data provenance research through a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiatives (MURI) project funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. The MURI project enabled the team to develop the preliminaries of a model for assured data provenance, which they then used to apply for NSF funding.

“We are very pleased to receive this large Trustworthy Computing Grant from NSF,” said Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham, the Louis A. Beecherl Jr. Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and director of the UT Dallas Cyber Security Research Center.  “Assured data provenance is a key aspect for many applications from healthcare, defense to home land security. We first started our investigation on data provenance under a small grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research back in 2006. We have made substantial progress over the year, and this large grant from NSF will enable us to make some breakthrough discoveries in this area,” she added.

Other UT Dallas researchers participating in the project include Dr. Alain Bensoussan, distinguished research professor of operations management and director of the International Center for Decision and Risk Analysis.  UTSA’s Dr. Ravi Sandhu is the project’s principal investigator and Dr. Elisa Bertino will head up Purdue’s efforts.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].