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SnT at Heart of Major EU Cybersecurity Push

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Published on Tuesday, 26 February 2019

The European Commission announces today the launch of four Cybersecurity Competence Networks -- a new initiative to accelerate cybersecurity research by drawing together Europe’s leading experts.

Participation was highly competitive and the University of Luxembourg is the only organisation in Europe with a presence in three of the four networks, underlining its reputation in the domain.

Through its Interdisciplinary Centre for Security Reliability and Trust (SnT), the University of Luxembourg 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.

An alliance that emphasises diversity and agility

Each Cybersecurity Competence Network brings together some 40 partners from across Europe, with a total initial financing of around 65 million Euros. The aim 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.

The geopolitical implications of cyberattacks and failures are enormous, with EC President Jean-Claude Juncker having described them as “more dangerous to the stability of democracies and economies than guns and tanks”. Addressing this threat requires experts working together from dozens of fields, and yet the situation in Europe is characterised by fragmented and unaligned research and innovation strategies.

These Cybersecurity Competence Networks will address this fragmentation, creating a framework for the development, testing and validation of new solutions on a grand scale. Their emphasis on diversity and agility is expected to give them a competitive edge over large-scale centralised efforts favoured by countries such as China, Russia and the USA.

Prof. Paulo Esteves-Veríssimo, FNR PEARL Chair, is coordinating SnT’s involvement in the initiative, alongside colleagues Dr Jacques Klein and Prof. 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.

Addressing vulnerabilities in the most complex systems

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. 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.”

"Our presence in three of the four networks is a remarkable result for a young organisation," says SnT Director Prof. 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."

Photos © Sciences Relations

Networks with SnT involvement

  • SPARTA — Re-imagining the way cybersecurity research, innovation, and training are performed in the European Union
  • H2020 project CONCORDIA (Cyber Security Competence for Research and Innovation)
  • CyberSec4Europe


SnT is turning 10! We’ve come a long way since launching our activities in 2009. Stay tuned for a year full of celebrations, cutting-edge research, and new milestones.