My research focuses on how technology can improve the lives of underserved populations in low-income regions. This involves work in in Computer Security and Privacy, HCI, Systems, Networks, and Data Analytics.
In the past, I have worked on a wide range of projects encompassing computer science, math, and physics. The most notable examples are my previous internships at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, where I studied fireballs, and the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, where I researched the use of computer vision algorithms on astronomical data sets (pun intended).
I have been working in the field of computing for development since January 2016. Primarily, I have worked on digital financial services for the unbanked. I work in close collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Branchless banking in the developing world provides much needed financial services to the unbanked. Increasing smartphone usage along with cellular internet connectivity provides an opportunity to deliver these services more conveniently. There is an implied trust on such applications to communicate securely. We examined the existing security vulnerabilities and how easy it is for a novice developer to build a secured app. We discovered that a developer needs tremendous knowledge about current security practices, which does not fit well with the attitude of blindly using default parameters or pasting from outdated message boards. We implemented three types of secured connections between our Android app and server to recreate difficulties, hard-to-understand configuration requirements, and potential mistakes. Based on this analysis, we defined a specification for an Android cryptographic library and server OpenSSL wrapper library that selects default values based on current best practices. We concluded, not surprisingly, that developers should use SSL/TLS rather than implementing their own version of encryption.
We are conducting a survey of research in financial services for the unbanked published in mainstream Computer Science literature. The white paper will soon be available.