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  • Writer's pictureENTRUST

Women in Science Interviews with Nada El Kassem, University of Surrey

"Sewing cybersecurity is also a woman's duty"

Can you share a bit about your background and journey in the field of cybersecurity?


Due to the rapid shift to online services such as online banking, shopping, email services, and social media, it's very crucial to prevent cyber criminals from getting hold of our accounts, data, and devices. Cyber security provides individuals and organizations with techniques and mitigations that reduce the risk of cyber-attacks by protecting users’ devices such as connected cameras, sensors, smartphones, and laptops. 

My work is to provide resilient cryptographic constructions that constitute the main building block in cybersecurity. Depending on the real-world user case application, we design a suitable mathematical cryptographic protocol that provides the security requirements needed for each use case. Moreover, the security of the provided protocols should be proven in predefined security models before they can be ready to be implemented in real-world scenarios.   

What inspired you to pursue a career in science?  


Having a strong mathematical background was the main reason that directed my research toward cryptography. Mathematics constitutes the language of cybersecurity. The concept of provable security says that a system is secure if its security can be reduced to computational hard mathematical problems. Thus, to prove that a system is secure, we provide a mathematical proof that shows that breaking the security of a system implies solving a conjectured underlying hard mathematical problem such as the Discrete Logarithmic (DL) and the Learning With Error (LWE) problems. Providing these security proofs constitutes the main interesting part of my work. 

What inspired you to contribute to the ENTRUST project's mission of enhancing security and trust management for Connected Medical Devices in the healthcare sector?  

ENTRUST project aims to secure the healthcare system that has recently witnessed different types of cyber-attacks. The novelty of ENTRUST is to design provably secure cryptographic solutions that offer security and privacy for connected medical devices, secure the communication channels between them, and provide access control techniques to the cloud based on the device attributes. My work at ENTRUST is to design cryptographic solutions that will be implemented/tested on a range of healthcare use cases before being deployed into the healthcare system. It is a pleasure for me to work at ENTRUST in this challenging domain where men represent the vast majority in the computer and engineering worlds. 

What are some common misconceptions about women's roles in digital healthcare and cybersecurity that you'd like to address based on your involvement in the ENTRUST project?

Being a woman may put some obstacles in your career since women can be engaged in many responsibilities such as looking after children which is a heavy-duty job.

As a mother of three, I deeply encourage women to be engaged in any type of work that provides solutions for real-world problems. The main misconception about women in work is the misbelief in women's capabilities due to them having other responsibilities. From ENTRUST, I assure you that women efficiently do their targeted work exactly like men or even better in some cases.

Gender diversity is the key to success. For example, a part of my work at ENTRUST is designing and implementing healthcare-resilient cryptographic solutions that have a positive influence on the healthcare system which is a common target for cybercriminals. In fact, according to Check Point Research (CPR), healthcare organizations experienced 1,426 attacks per week in 2022. Therefore, healthcare systems as well as any vulnerable system need women to stand side to side with men for a better secure connected world.

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