Desmedt’s research from the 1980s and 1990s on threshold cryptography – how cryptography techniques can be used with devices or people who cannot be trusted – has been implemented in the financial sector. The applications range from techniques used to verify that the user of an ATM card is actually the account owner, to tools to secure transactions involving millions of dollars.
We applied math that had never before been used in cryptography to solve these problems.
Dr. Yvo Desmedt is an expert in cryptography, a field that started as the use of coded language to transmit important messages and has since become a discipline that relies heavily on math and computer science skills to protect the privacy and integrity of communications.
His research interests include computer security, critical infrastructure, entity authentication, information hiding, malware, network security and cyberterrorism. His current work at UT Dallas includes research on Web browser vulnerabilities. By finding solutions to these vulnerabilities, Desmedt said securely voting over the Internet could become a viable reality.
“Most of my research is being aware of vulnerabilities and finding solutions that are, when implemented, nearly imperceptible to the user,” he said.
Desmedt worked in industry and at universities in Belgium, New Mexico, Canada, Wisconsin, London and Florida before joining UT Dallas in 2012. He is a member of the Cyber Security Research and Education Institute at UT Dallas.
Desmedt’s cryptography work has aided Fortune 100 companies in the United States, and American and European financial institutions such as bank and credit card companies. In the 1980s, he conducted research on cyberterrorism by showing how inserting control commands in an industrial system might change control settings of the equipment concerned.
Originally from Belgium, Desmedt earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. He has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and has been an invited speaker at conferences and workshops on five continents. He is a fellow of the International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR) and editor of the Journal of Computer Security. He is also editor in chief of IET Information Security.
Desmedt said that his teaching style emphasizes math.
“I think it is important if you know the material well yourself to put extra effort into making it accessible to students,” he said. “I introduce all the mathematics and make sure it is clear why this math was needed.”