About Me

My name is Albert Kwon, and I'm a fifth year Ph.D. student at MIT working with Srini Devadas. I'm broadly interested in security and privacy, with emphasis on applied cryptography. I've been working on privacy and anonymity in the cloud. My Master's thesis was on strongly anonymous communication system, and most recently I've been working on scaling strong anonymous communication.


Before MIT, I got my Bachelors of Science from University of Pennsylvania in EE and CIS in 2013. At UPenn, my undergrad research advisor was André DeHon.

Research

I am generally interested in doing research in security and privacy. Currently, my research focuses on anonymity, but I've done research in a couple fields:


Anonymity

Anonymity has been the focus of my research for past couple of years. A few questions of interest to me are:

  • How can we guarantee freedom of speech online and protect everyone's privacy?
  • How do we scale strong anonymity?
  • How do we hold people accountable for their actions if everyone is anonymous?
  • How do we establish trust if everyone is anonymous?

Publications:

Atom: Horizontally Scaling Strong Anonymity
Albert Kwon, Henry Corrigan-Gibbs, Srinivas Devadas, and Bryan Ford
Beaver: A Decentralized Anonymous Marketplace with Secure Reputation
Kyle Soska, Albert Kwon, Nicolas Christin, and Srinivas Devadas
Riffle: Efficient Communication System with Strong Anonymity
Albert Kwon, David Lazar, Srinivas Devadas, and Bryan Ford
Circuit Fingerprinting Attacks: Passive Deanonymization of Tor Hidden Services
Albert Kwon, Mashael Al-Sabah, David Lazar, Marc Dacier, and Srinivas Devadas

ORAM

When a program accesses memory, when and where it accesses memory is sometimes just as important as what it accesses. Oblivious Random Access Memory is a cryptographic primitive that hides information leaked by the access pattern of a program. In my first year at MIT, I helped Chris and Ling improve and implement different ORAMs.

Publications:

Constants Count: Practical Improvements to Oblivious RAM
Ling Ren, Chris Fletcher, Albert Kwon, Emil Stefanov, Elain Shi, Marten van Dijk, and Srinivas Devadas
Freecursive oram:[nearly] free recursion and integrity verification for position-based oblivious ram
Chris Fletcher, Ling Ren, Albert Kwon, Marten van Dijk, and Srinivas Devadas
A low-latency, low-area hardware oblivious ram controller
Chris Fletcher, Ling Ren, Albert Kwon, Marten van Dijk, Emil Stefanov, Dimitrios Serpanos, and Srinivas Devadas
PrORAM: dynamic prefetcher for oblivious RAM
Xiangyao Yu, Syed Kamran Haider, Ling Ren, Chris Fletcher, Albert Kwon, Marten van Dijk, and Srinivas Devadas

Secure Processors

In my undergrad, I worked on a secure processor as part of the SAFE project. It provided hardware support for memory safety, information flow tracking, and other security features.

Publications:

Low-fat pointers: compact encoding and efficient gate-level implementation of fat pointers for spatial safety and capability-based security
Albert Kwon, Udit Dhawan, Jonathan M Smith, Thomas F Knight Jr, and André DeHon
Hardware support for safety interlocks and introspection

Other projects

SpaceMint: A Cryptocurrency Based on Proofs of Space
Sunoo Park, Albert Kwon, Joel Alwen, Georg Fuchsbauer, Peter Gazi, and Krzysztof Pietrzak
RotoRouter: Router support for endpoint-authorized decentralized traffic filtering to prevent DoS attacks
Albert Kwon, Kaiyu Zhang, Perk Lun Lim, Yuchen Pan, Jonathan M Smith, and André DeHon

Teaching

I enjoy teaching computer science quite a bit, and have been part of several classes as a TA. Here's a list of classes I've helped teach at MIT and UPenn.

  • MIT
    • 6.858: Computer Systems Security (Fall 2015)
    • 6.046: Introduction to Algorithms (Spring 2015)
  • University of Pennsylvania
    • CIS320: Introduction to Algorithms (Spring 2013)
    • CIS380: Operating Systems (Fall 2012)
    • CIS240: Introduction to Computing Systems (Fall 2011)
    • CIS192: Python Programming (Spring 2011)
    I'm currently mentoring three bright high school students, Sanjit, David, and Theoas part of the MIT Primes program. We are working on analyzing Tor's security and an anonymous forum. In previous years, I've worked with John, Vivek, and Vinjay on proof-of-space, and with Diana and Christian on anonymous chatroom.

    Personal

    When I'm not working, I spend majority of my time with my other half. When I'm not spending time with her, I'm usually part taking in one of my less productive hobbies. They include:

    • Video games
    • Basketball
    • Board games
    • Super hero movies and TV shows
    • Reddit
    Of all my hobbies, I probably play video games the most. I play many Nintendo and Blizzard games (anything Mario/Zelda/Metroid, SSB, Splatoon, Diablo, Hearthstone, Overwatch, etc.; you name it, and I probably play it!). I'm also an avid fan of rhythm games.