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SnT: PEARL Grant for Prof. Veríssimo

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Published on Monday, 08 September 2014

Prof. Paulo Veríssimo has commenced his research work at the Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) of the University of Luxembourg this month. The renowned computer scientist has been convinced to move from the University of Lisbon to Luxembourg – amongst others thanks to the award of a 5 million EUR PEARL Grant from the Fonds National de la Recherche (FNR).

“I think the environment at SnT is ideal for making progress in my scientific fields of interest”, says Veríssimo. His work focusses on Critical Information Infrastructures (CII) that are pivotal to reliable operation of the state, the society, and the economy. “Security and dependability of CIIs is enormously important in particular to Luxembourg as a location of banking and service industries, as well as being the seat of many European institutions”, according to Veríssimo.

Modern information and communication technology (ICT) controls our world. Whether industrial facilities, banks, traffic systems, or public administration – we are dependent everywhere on smooth interaction of computers, software, and data transfer. This complexity offers enormous opportunities and benefits, but also creates risks, as Paulo Veríssimo explains: “The interconnection of ICT systems may allow malware to infiltrate. Worst case, they not only can manipulate software, they can even damage physical infrastructure – factory equipment, power grids, or computer systems.”

Of course, there have been great efforts made in the past to better protect computer programmes from attacks, according to Veríssimo: “However, we have only relatively recently identified the complex interaction of software on one hand, and of physical infrastructure on the other as an important issue for research from a security and reliability perspective.”There is a great need for research and development in this area according to Veríssimo: “The team I am going to build at SnT will make a significant contribution to addressing this challenge.”

Prof. Björn Ottersten, Director of SnT, also emphasises the importance of the issues Veríssimo will be researching: “Security of Critical Information Infrastructures has received more and more attention recently within ICT research, and also from our partners in commerce and the public sector. There is a need for action. We are very proud that Paulo Veríssimo, one of the pioneers in this field, could be drawn to SnT and Luxembourg.”

The FNR also played a crucial role in this. Its General Secretary Dr Marc Schiltz is pleased that the PEARL programme has again proven attractive to an internationally renowned researcher: “Prof. Veríssimo’s reputation and the research programme proposed by him convinced us and our Scientific Selection Panel that he should come to Luxembourg funded by a PEARL Grant from the FNR.”