NWO Gravitation: nearly ten million euros for ’Challenges in Cyber Security’

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Substantial funding for research project coordinated by Tanja Lange.

Cybersecurity is often portrayed as an education problem or a lack of resources, blaming users, system administrators or budget holders who limit system management capabilities. However, many difficult problems remain unsolved because they require coordinated scientific research. The ’Challenges in Cyber Security’ project therefore brings together top researchers from the hard sciences in the cyber security field. This, according to Minister Dijkgraaf (Education, Culture and Science), places the research among ’the world’s scientific top’, and the project will thus receive a substantial NWO Gravitation grant.

’Challenges in Cyber Security’ is one of seven research projects that received an NWO Gravitation grant this year, with the impressive sum of ¤9,932,919 attached. Under the rubric of this project, a team of more than thirty cyber security researchers is ready to rebuild cyber security on new solid foundations. Prof. Tanja Lange of the Department of Mathematics & Computer Science is the coordinator on behalf of TU/e and is pulling the cart in cooperation with Lejla Batina (RU), Herbert Bos (VU), Marten van Dijk (CWI) and Christian Schaffner (UvA). The other TU/e researchers in the CiCS project are Sandro Etalle, Kathrin Hövelmanns, Andreas Hülsing, Alberto Ravagnani, Sven Schäge, Monika Trimoska, and Boris Skoric.

Moonshot problem

"Cybersecurity appears in the news weekly with data breaches and critical vulnerabilities", says Lange. "We took a step back to plan how to rebuild, rather than contributing to the break-and-patch cycle that dominates the current approach." The result: the ’Challenges in Cyber Security’-project. "It is a moonshot problem, but we have formed a strong team of excellent scientists and have a roadmap with nine core challenges."

The Dutch cabinet is investing in seven major research projects at Dutch universities. This was announced today by Minister Dijkgraaf. These include research into mechanical stresses in plants; better understanding of proteins in our bodies; cyber security; therapy against blindness; the chemical basis of mental disorders; crisis response, and chemical storage of electricity. The seven projects in these areas are either among the world’s top scientific performers or on their way to doing so.

Gravitation program

The grants are part of the Gravitation Program, through which the Cabinet has been investing in science for ten years. Every two years, groups of scientists working for Dutch universities can qualify for an investment. Research projects now receive half of the money, and upon successful evaluation after five years, the second half. So that makes ten years of research possible for them. This long-term funding acts as a magnet for top scientific talent.

Dijkgraaf: "With investments like this, we ensure that we in the Netherlands remain among the world’s scientific leaders. This not only provides important new insights, but also strengthens our economy. And it brings innovations from which we all benefit. I am proud that we have such scientific talent in our own country. It is not something to be taken for granted. Truly something to be cherished."