27. October 2015
Foto: Oliver Dietze

Competence in IT security – BMBF will fund CISPA with 16 Millions

Over the next four years, the federal ministry for education and research (BMBF) will promote the CISPA (Center for IT-Security, Privacy and Accountability) competence center for IT security with around 16 million euros. Therewith, CISPA can further extend its research activity. Founded in 2011, more than 200 researchers are working at the competence center on IT security and privacy topics, such as novel encryption schemes for payments or message transmission over the internet. During her today’s visit at the campus Saarbrücken, federal minister Johanna Wanka together with prime minister of Saarland Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer gathered information on recent research directions.

“We need to be able to better secure ourselves and our data. In order to make use of the internet and the digital world in a secure and self-determined manner, we need new tools that are easy to use. Saarbrücken plays a key role here and has become one of the biggest and most industrious sites for IT security research in europe in the last years. The evolvement is remarkable and we therefore triple the funding. “, says federal minister Johanna Wanka. CISPA is one out of three competence centers for IT security research that has been funded by the BMBF with around 5.4 million euros since 2011.

“We are proud and delighted that the federal ministry for education and research honors the excellent security research in Saarland and expands its support”, emphasizes prime minister of Saarland Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. “Saarland also contributed to strengthen security research by investing in a dedicated building and new professorships.” The prime minister also highlights the importance of political cooperation to sustainably cope with the challenges of IT security. “Thanks to the mediation of the federal state government of Saarland, CISPA is already cooperating with european security authorities. In the future, we need to find a common european strategy to protect cross-border infrastructure like the internet. A common european research agenda for IT security is an important step. This is already put into practice by the close cooperation of the french Institute National de Recherche en Informatique et Automatique (INRIA) and CISPA. ”

Michael Backes, professor for information security and cryptography at Saarland University and CISPA institute director, points out the exponentially increasing attack possibilities and consequences due to the ever-expanding digitalization and connection of our everyday lifes. “IT security research must not be reduced to a cat-and-mouse game with attackers.” It is not enough to focus on the symptoms only and just defend against one hacker attack after another. “We need to find new ways to enable digital protection in a world that is increasingly interconnected. Novel systems and infrastructures need to be researched to provide reliable security guarantees by design.” says Backes. We need to follow new paths in the data processing, too, so that citizens can in a first step understand the consequences of exposing their data and in the next step reclaim their data sovereignty. “Both is only realizable with long-term oriented fundamental research”, says Backes.

CISPA focuses its research on “dependable, secure computer systems”, “free, accountable, privacy-preserving interaction” and “protection of personal data in the digital world”. Projects include for example apps that clarify permission approval for users. Another example is research on a development environment for programmers that consider privacy from the very beginning. Affiliated to the CISPA are Saarland University, as well as the Max Planck Institutes for Informatics and Software Systems and the German Research Center for Artificial Inteligence (DFKI).

The BMBF supported competence centers for IT security in Saarbrücken, Darmstadt and Karlsruhe evolved into important instigators for IT security research. Consequently, BMBF extends the funding of those competence centers to around 40 million euros for the next four years. The competence centers are a part of the federal government’s research framework program “Self-determined and secure in the digital world 2015-2020”. The program puts into practice the goals of the “New hightech strategy – innovations for Germany” that the federal government utilizes to transform ideas into innovations and to create connections between economy and research, as well as between research and society. This is what creates employment and opportunities of tomorrow.

Press Release of BMBF, translation by CISPA, Photo: Oliver Dietze