Nathaniel Husted

A Tabula Rasa for Digital Security

Program:Ph.D. in Informatics, Security Informatics track

Hometown:Indianapolis, Indiana

Best of Bloomington:One of my personal favorite hangouts is the Scholar’s Inn Bakehouse. I go there to get a good cup of coffee and some work done on the weekends.

Digital security first became an interest of Nathaniel Husted’s when he was teen, but he entered the security informatics track of the Ph.D. in Informatics with a free mind. “I was a tabula rasa; I had just scraped the surface of the attainable knowledge and I wanted to learn all I could.”

As an undergraduate student, Nathaniel worked part time as a systems administrator. The experience opened his eyes to the faults of some traditional methods of digital security and the design of security technologies. He says, “I discovered that I wanted to research concepts of digital security using new tools and theories that shed light on security problems traditional methods could not attempt to solve.”

This combination of tools and theories translates into hands-on projects, stimulating talk, and flashes of insight: “The most rewarding moments are when I’m discussing research with my advisor and I realize that I’ve gained a greater understanding of my field and I’m just one step closer to becoming an expert. There is nothing more exhilarating then that moment of clarity.

I’m currently working with a team on a project dealing with the privacy an individual has in a world full of mobile devices and wireless access. Our goal is to see how easily individuals can track one another with just a WiFi-enabled mobile phone like an iPhone, Nexus One, or Blackberry smartphone. It’s a topic that has included techniques from a number of different disciplines and is turning in to something that could be a dissertation in the making.”

Because the project spans disciplines, and the school is multidisciplinary, Nathaniel can find advice and perspectives to help him with his research. He says, “Everyone needs to come into grad school understanding that they have a plethora of things to learn. I’ve found that every other group in the School of Informatics and Computing has provided me with a precious piece of knowledge.”