Privacy-preserving Internet Services

02/09/2019

Researcher from the TU Darmstadt receives ERC Starting Grant for Research in Security and Privacy

CRISP researcher Prof. Thomas Schneider from the TU Darmstadt was awarded an ERC Starting Grant by the European Research Council (ERC). His project „PSOTI“ obtains funding of around 1.5 million euros over a period of five years. This again underlines the high importance of Cybersecurtiy Research in Darmstadt.

© Eileén Bosselmann

Thomas Schneider is full professor for Computer Science at TU Darmstadt and heads the Cryptography and Privacy Engineering Group (ENCRYPTO). In their research, he and his team demonstrate that privacy can be efficiently protected in several applications. He receives the ERC Starting Grant for his project „PSOTI“ (Privacy-preserving Services On The Internet).

In „PSOTI“, he and his team will develop privacy-preserving services for commonly used applications on the Internet like data storage, online surveys, and email. "These services will provide extensive functionalities and will allow to securely and efficiently store, retrieve, search, and process data. This will allow to comply with the GDPR and preserve the fundamental rights to privacy and the protection of personal data", says Prof. Schneider.

The project „PSOTI“ will eliminate the need to trust a single service provider and empower users to keep full control over their data. For this, the user can choose from multiple service providers who jointly process the data, without gaining direct access to the contents. The data will be protected, as long as at least one provider is trustworthy.

This is a great advantage to the current practice. So far you have to trust his data necessarily the respective service provider, if you want to use services on the Internet. However, attackers or secret services can obtain access to that data by using vulnerabilities or backdoors in hard- or software. Moreover, authorities can force the service provider to give out data. Moreover the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) now mandates that companies take appropriate measures to protect user data.

As part of the project, researchers continue to plan the development of a practical system for secure multi-party computations which can also be used for the secure processing of other sensitive data such as in the areas of genomics or machine learning. Also protocols for private search queries will be built that even hide the structure of the query and that can be used in multiple application scenarios.

Background informatione
Thomas Schneider is full professor for Computer Science at TU Darmstadt and heads the Cryptography and Privacy Engineering Group (ENCRYPTO). In their research, he and his team demonstrate that privacy can be efficiently protected in several applications. For this, they use methods from applied cryptography and algorithm engineering for developing protocols, tools, and software prototypes to efficiently protect sensitive data. His work also contributes to the research results of the National Research Center for Applied Cybersecurity CRISP.

Before becoming a professor in March 2018, he was an independent research group leader at TU Darmstadt (2012–2018) and did his PhD in IT Security with distinction at Ruhr-University Bochum (2008–2011). In 2012, he obtained the science award of the German Association for Data Protection and Data Security (GDD) for his dissertation. In 2007, he did a research internship at Bell Labs, NJ, USA. More details are available at https://encrypto.de/schneider.

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