"A man can be destroyed but not defeated."-Hemingway

Ashwini Rao is a Ph.D. student in Software Engineering in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Ashwini currently works on the Usable Privacy Policy Project, and her advisor is Prof. Norman Sadeh. Ashwini is so enamored with academics and industry that she keeps switching between the two. In the process she has acquired significant experience in computer systems and security, completed two masters degrees (MS Computer Security, Carnegie Mellon University; MS Computer Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay), finished a bachelors degree (BS Computer Science and Engineering, University of Mysore), and held four full time jobs (Qualcomm Incorporated, San Diego, CA; Appian Corporation, Reston, VA among others).

About me

An engineer and a problem solver


Research Interests

Privacy, law, security, usability





Recent Events


Ashwini Rao, Florian Schaub, Norman Sadeh. What do they know about me? Contents and Concerns of Online Behavioral Profiles. 6th ASE Conference on Privacy, Security, Risk and Trust (PASSAT'14), Cambridge, USA, December, 2014. [ PAPER ]
Shri Karthikeyan, Sophia Feng, Ashwini Rao, Norman Sadeh. Smartphone Fingerprint Authentication versus PINs: A Usability Study. CMU CyLab Technical Report, July, 2014. [ TECH. REPORT ]
Ashwini Rao, Hanan Hibshi, Travis Breaux, Jean-Michel Lehker, Jianwei Niu. Less is More? Investigating the Role of Examples in Security Studies using Analogical Transfer. 1st Symposium and Bootcamp on the Science of Security (HoTSoS'14), Raleigh, USA, April 2014. [ PAPER ]
Travis D. Breaux, Ashwini Rao. Formal Analysis of Privacy Requirements Specifications for Multi-Tier Applications (nominated for best paper). 21st IEEE Requirements Engineering Conference (RE'13), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 2013. [ PAPER ]
Ashwini Rao, Birendra Jha, Gananand Kini. Effect of Grammar on Security of Long Passwords. 3rd ACM Conference on Data and Application Security and Privacy (CODASPY'13), San Antonio, USA, Feb. 2013 [ PAPER ] [ TECH. REPORT ]
Travis D. Breaux, Hanan Hibshi, Ashwini Rao, Jean-Michel Lehker. Towards a Framework for Pattern Experimentation: Understanding empirical validity in requirements engineering patterns. 2nd IEEE Workshop on Requirements Engineering Patterns (RePa'12), Chicago, USA, Sep. 2012. [ PAPER ] [ PPT ]
Ashwini Rao. Compression in Memory Constrained DBMSs. Masters Thesis, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai, India, Jun. 2005. [ THESIS ]

Media mentions

"Who shares your data?"
[Link Magazine]
"Bad grammar make good password, research say"
[NewScientist]  [Scientific American]  [CMU Homepage]  [ACM TechNews]  [NPR]  [SlashDot]  [Ars Technica]  [DailyMail]  [CMU Research Showcase] 

Curriculum Vitae

CV ]


Office: 4123 Wean Hall, Carnegie Mellon University