A&M-Central Texas Awarded Coveted National Science Foundation Grant for Cybersecurity Research

Karen Clos
March 18, 2024

A&M-Central Texas Awarded Coveted National Science Foundation Grant for Cybersecurity Research

Texas A&M-Central Texas Assistant Professor Lavanya Elluri is the new recipient of a competitive two-year National Science Foundation grant totaling $170,062.

Her research proposal, submitted earlier this year, focuses on federal and state laws regarding data privacy and protection and the need to better address Cybersecurity of IoT – known as “the Internet of Things.”

Referring to the development and use of internet connected devices, Elluri is focused on convenience and privacy, adding that many people overlook the privacy of their own data for the convenience of internet connected devices like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s Assistant.

“Of course, as we speak, almost everything is capable of collecting our data,” she said. “If you drive a Tesla, your data is being collected, and to a great extent, any other technology enhanced car will, too.”

“If you use a voice assistant, your data is collected,” she continued. “Anything that is marketed to you as a ‘smart’ device – from your home security to your refrigerator is collecting data about each individual and its use. My research proposes the development of a model to ensure that users understand their rights, their privacy, and their options.”

For those who may not understand the complexities of data privacy and technology, Elluri hopes to emphasize the importance of compliance federal laws, and relatively recent state laws, and the importance of technology companies remaining in compliance with both.

“What we know is that users can be so distracted by the convenience of their devices, that they overlook their own rights to their own data – never realizing how technology companies profit from the permissions they virtually give away when they sign up for any “smart” device – whether it is a streaming service, an appliance, a toy, or a vehicle.

“The goal of my research is the cybersecurity of IoT by serving the companies creating these smart devices and the users using these devices because, whether they realize it or not, they are the ones most seriously impacted by it,” she concluded.

“I hope to develop a model for tech companies and users to follow that will put their privacy preserving rights front and center, and build it into these devices, so enforcement is not an afterthought anymore.”

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