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Recent graduate Klaudia Krawiecka received the 2017 national information security Master thesis of the year award

Klaudia’s thesis introduced a new technique that uses widely available trusted hardware for protecting user’s passwords and other sensitive data on the web.

Klaudia Krawiecka is the first woman to win the best Master thesis award in information security in Finland.

Former Aalto Computer Science Master student Klaudia Krawiecka has won the national competition for the best information security thesis in Finland. The award ceremony was held on Tuesday 24th October in Helsinki. Klaudia’s work introduced SafeKeeper, a system that is designed to address the challenge of protecting user’s passwords and other types of sensitive data in web servers. SafeKeeper’s source code is not yet public but will be made publicly available soon.

As part of her thesis research, Klaudia conducted a user study which demonstrated that SafeKeeper is effective: in 87% of the cases, study participants were able to correctly identify whether sending in their passwords to a given web server is safe. In addition, the user study revealed interesting observations in users’ attitudes and impressions towards security and privacy. “Password-based systems have complex infrastructure behind them, but ordinary users should be able to use passwords safely without having to understand all the complexity. This was an important objective for us when we designed SafeKeeper”, says Klaudia.

From Aalto to Oxford PhD programme

Klaudia started in Aalto as an intern and research assistant at the Secure Systems Group at the Department of Computer Science. She studied in the Erasmus Mundus joint Master's Degree Programme in Security and Mobile Computing (NordSecMob), graduating with joint degrees from Aalto University and Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The internship project soon expanded to a Master thesis titled as “Improving Web Security Using Trusted Hardware”, advised by Dr Andrew Paverd and supervised by Professor N. Asokan. SafeKeeper was developed as part of the Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Secure Computing (ICRI-SC) as well as the Tekes Cloud-assisted Security Services (CloSer) project.

Klaudia recently started her doctoral studies at the University of Oxford in the Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security. “My study background in Aalto has been a significant advantage for my career move towards a PhD. Being involved in research activities in the Secure Systems Group has strengthened my motivation as a researcher and provided many useful experiences”, explains Klaudia. Her current work and working environment both have a strong multidisciplinary scope. Cyber security is a quickly evolving, dynamic field, and there is always something new and exciting going on. “I enjoy being challenged in my work and building my knowledge all the time”, Klaudia summarizes.

More attention to women in science and technology

Klaudia’s great work was highly acknowledged in the award ceremony by the reviewers from Tietoturva ry and Tietotekniikan tutkimussäätiö. On top of that, she is the first woman to win the best Master thesis award in information security in Finland. Many companies in cyber security are currently investing to hire more young professionals. “This is a very good development. However, in my opinion, we should pay more attention to women in technology, and encourage their initiatives and careers both in academia and in industry”, Klaudia says.

 

More information: Secure Systems Group

Klaudia Krawiecka. Improving Web Security Using Trusted Hardware. Thesis (pdf).

 

Text and photo: Aija Kukkala

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