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2011 - Joana Matos Fonseca da Trindade

Joana Matos Fonseca da Trindade is protecting sensitive data against malicious insiders, like the database administrators who helped Enron executives tap into their accounting records.

She is pursuing a Master’s of Computer Science degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where her research focuses on trusted hardware and database compliance.  To meet compliance requirements like Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA, companies often restrict access to sensitive data.  But what if an employee with legitimate access – like the database administrator – is the one illegally tampering with data?  Her research group’s software helps identify altered records, such as through a “regret window.” The “regret window” allows a user to create a new entry and modify it up to five minutes after creation.  Any changes to the original record made outside this window could be considered malicious, and raises a red flag for further investigation. Her goal is to make the data integrity guarantees provided by her group’s software even stronger through the use of tamper-resistant trusted hardware.

Joana thought she was going to study psychology, until a computer science student showed her a discrete math class note on how to prove that the sum of two even numbers always equals an even number.  Seeing that proof convinced her that computer science was the field that best matched her interests in math, technology, and writing snippets of code to customize internet chat programs.  With her career choice fulfilling those hobbies, she’s become a self-described “movie geek” and guitar player in her spare time.

She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Computer Science from Brazil’s Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul.  After completing her Master’s degree, Joana plans to pursue a Ph.D. program.