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The European Commission has recently launched four Cybersecurity Competence Networks with the aim of accelerating cybersecurity research by drawing together Europe’s leading experts. Each network brings together some 40 partners from across Europe, with a total initial financing of around €65 million provided by the Horizon 2020 programme. The objective is to scale up existing research for the benefit of Digital Single Market cybersecurity and to arrive at a blueprint for the governance of ongoing large-scale collaboration in the field.

Participation in the networks was highly competitive, and the University of Luxembourg was selected for three of the networks. Through its Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT), it will contribute experts working in resilient systems for the Internet of Things (IoT), biomedical data protection, automated detection and fixing of Android app vulnerabilities, big data, and blockchain based distributed systems.

Cross-sector expertise

Professor Paulo Esteves-Veríssimo, FNR PEARL Chair, is coordinating SnT’s involvement in the initiative, alongside colleagues Professor Yves Le Traon and Professor Radu State: “SnT is a good example of a research centre with expertise across cybersecurity, from cryptography and blockchain to IoT and software testing. But if we are to secure our critical industries — healthcare, energy, finance, transportation, and public administration — we need actors from across Europe pulling together and challenging one another to reach new heights,” he says.

Professor Esteves-Veríssimo’s own efforts focus on extreme threats to critical information infrastructures, such as power grid control and autonomous driving systems. “The systems we use today are complex, and that creates vulnerabilities,” he explains. “My team investigates innovative algorithms and mechanisms we can apply to make systems tolerate faults and intrusions in an automatic way; our critical information infrastructures need to endure and adapt, regardless of whether the problem is an accidental malfunction or a malicious attack. We call it resilience, and it needs to be built into our digital infrastructure.”

A remarkable result

“Our presence in three of the four networks is a remarkable result for a young organisation,” says SnT Director Professor Björn Ottersten, with SnT celebrating its tenth anniversary throughout 2019. “These networks will shape Europe’s approach to cybersecurity research, development and innovation for years to come, and our involvement puts Luxembourg in an exciting position, at the heart of EU cybersecurity efforts.”

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