Dr Kanchana Thilakarathna

Dr Kanchana Thilakarathna

BSc Eng (Hons) PhD
Senior Lecturer in Distributed Computing
School of Computer Science
Dr Kanchana Thilakarathna

Dr Kanchana Thilakarathna is a Senior Lecturer in Distributed Computing at the School of Computer Science, The University of Sydney and is a member of the Centre for Distributed and High Performance Computing.

Prior to joining the University of Sydney, Kanchana was a Research Scientist at the Networks Group, Cyber-Physical Systems Research Program at Data61-CSIRO and previously NICTA during Nov 2014 - Aug 2017. Kanchana received his PhD in Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications from The University of New South Wales. For his PhD thesis entitled “Moving from Clouds to Mobile Clouds: Cost-Efficient Privacy-Aware Mobile Content Delivery”, Kanchana received the Malcolm Chaikin Prize in 2015 which is awarded to the Best Engineering PhD Thesis among all engineering disciplines at UNSW and iAwards 2015 for the best Postgraduate Tertiary Student in NSW, Australia. Kanchana received his B.Sc. Engineering degree with First Class Honours specialising in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering from The University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. He has more than three years of industry experience as a Mobile Radio Network Optimisation Engineer, before pursuing postgraduate studies. He also had a visiting researcher appointment at INRIA, France in 2012.

Kanchana’s current research interests include cybersecurity, privacy, Internet of Things, mobile networks and mixed reality.

While the majority of us now carry at least one smart mobile device with us every day, few of us are fully aware of the cost of this convenience in terms of exposing our personal information to third parties. Dr Kanchana Thilakarathna’s research aims to improve our security and privacy in this regard.

“Smart devices – such as smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and other wearables – have literally changed human lifestyles, providing endless innovative services in every aspect of our life. I am passionate about their ever-growing capabilities to take human experience far beyond expectations.

“But while we enjoy many of these services ‘for free’, they come at the cost of these devices having the ability to continuously monitor, store and transmit sensitive personal information to third parties, such as service providers.

“Most users are unaware of exactly what information service providers are collecting about them, and the majority of providers currently gather information without properly informing users or giving them an alternative.

“It is technically challenging to provide secure, private and efficient services on top of these resource-constrained devices, especially with limited battery life and without negatively impacting the cost or usability of these services.

“My research aims to develop distributed computing platforms that exploit the computational, storage and energy resources available on and around the personal area to provide safe, secure, private, useful and efficient services to mobile users.

“One example of my work is a social media app I developed called Yalut, which enables users to retain control over their own photos, videos and other content. Users keep their content on their own devices and, when they choose to share some of it with online friends – whether through Yalut or an existing social media platform – it is uploaded directly to their friends’ devices, so that it is now only on their own and their friends’ devices.

“My aim is to develop mobile apps such as these and make them available to everyone.

“I’ve been working in this field since 2010, and joined the University of Sydney in 2017.”

  • Meta Research Awards 2022, 2020
  • Dean's Award for Industry Collaboration 2019
  • Engineering Excellence Awards, Institution of Engineers (NSW Chapter), Sri Lanka 2019
  • Google Faculty Research Awards 2018
  • Malcolm Chaikin Prize for 2015 for the Best UNSW Engineering PhD Thesis
  • AIIA iAWARDS 2015 for the Best Postgraduate Student Project in NSW
  • Heidelberg Laureate Fellowship as one of the Top 100 Young Computer Science Researchers worldwide
Project titleResearch student
Unifying Adversarial Examples and Out-of-Distribution Data for Enhanced Security and Privacy Risk Robustness in Deep Neural NetworksNaveen Harshitha KARUNANAYAKE
Blockchain-Based Architecture for Large-Scale IoT Distributed Trust ManagementTiantong WU


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Selected Grants


  • Edge AI in Multiple UAVs for ISR and Communications, Lim T, Thilakarathna K, NSW Department of Industry/Defence Innovation Network Project


  • Resilient and Secure Edge Computing for Untrusted Distributed Systems, Zomaya A, Thilakarathna K, Seneviratne S, Office of National Intelligence/National Intelligence and Security Discovery Research Grants Program