ATHENE researcher receives Copernicus Award 2020


Award for outstanding German-Polish cooperation in cryptography

ATHENE researcher Prof. Sebastian Faust from the TU Darmstadt will receive the Copernicus Prize 2020 of the Deutsche Forschungs­gemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and the Stiftung für die polnische Wissenschaft (FNP) for his services to German-Polish cooperation in science. The prize, which is endowed with 200,000 EURO, goes equally to him and to Prof. Stefan Dziembowski from the University of Warsaw. They receive the award for their outstanding cooperation in the field of theoretical cryptography and IT security.

The jury appointed by the DFG and FNP judged that their joint research on the mathematical principles of encryption techniques had made a significant contribution to making the use of information technologies and the associated data transfer process more secure and at the same time more efficient against external intervention. The main contribution of their work lies in the combination of different security models.

The scientists have been working closely together since meeting at a specialist conference about ten years ago. Numerous publications have resulted from this long-term cooperation. One focus of their joint research is the development and analysis of countermeasures to protect against side channel attacks. Side channel attacks, for example, exploit the power consumption of a smart card to attack IT security systems.

Prof. Faust heads the department of Applied Cryptography at the TU Darmstadt. His research projects on "Secure and Scalable Blockchain Technologies" are embedded in the Collaborative Research Center „CROSSING“ funded by the DFG at the TU Darmstadt. Within the framework of an ATHENE research project, he deals with the security of distributed systems and infrastructures and, together with other ATHENE scientists, investigates procedures for securing decentralized infrastructures and technologies, with special emphasis on blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT) or distributed machine learning.

Furthermore, Prof. Faust initiated the „Prochain“ start-up project, which has been financially supported by the new "StartUpSecure" funding programme of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research since July 2019 and is on its way to establishing its own company. Together with his team, he developed an IT security product for better use of block chain technologies, which is suitable for large industries such as energy and finance. The solution allows even the smallest amounts of money to be transferred over the Internet in near real time and more cost-effectively, while at the same time better protecting the privacy of transactions in block chain networks. The start-up incubator StartUpSecure | ATHENE supported the start-up team in the application for funding and accompanied them throughout the entire start-up process with additional consulting services.

Press release of the DFG

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