At this year's flagship security conference ACM CCS 2019 in London, Felix Günther was awarded the ACM SIGSAC Doctoral Dissertation award. The highly competitive award recognizes internationally outstanding PhD theses in computer and information security and includes prize money of 1,500 USD. With his dissertation “Modeling Advanced Security Aspects of Key Exchange and Secure Channel Protocols”, Felix Günther was honored for his impactful contributions on secure communications and the key management in the widely used TLS 1.3 protocol.
In his thesis, advised by CYSEC-PI Prof. Marc Fischlin in the Cryptoplexity (Cryptography and Complexity Theory) group, Günther studied the cryptographic security of modern communication connections on the Internet. The ability to securely communicate over the Internet today is a key technology enabling the pervasive digitization in all areas of modern life. At the same time, the demand for higher efficiency and security requires novel techniques for communication connections. In his work, Günther studied how those requirements on the cryptographic core of communication – key exchange and secure channel protocols – can be formalized and thus be applied generically to current and future protocol designs. The security models from his work enable capturing the practical behavior of modern designs more accurately and comprehensively. Günther's work thereby in particular contributed to the standardization process of the newest version of the world's most important security protocol, TLS (Transport Layer Security) 1.3, for which his contribution is explicitly acknowledged in the final standard. The results of his research were furthermore published at top-tier conferences in the field, including ACM CCS, IEEE Security & Privacy, Crypto, and Eurocrypt.
The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Security, Audit and Control (SIGSAC) develops and supports the IT security profession through organization and sponsoring of high-quality research conferences and workshops. Most prominently, SIGSAC organizes the annual ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS) which is the flagship conference in IT security.
In 2016 another CYSEC graduate, Lucas Davi, won the ACM SIGSAC Doctoral Dissertation Award for his thesis “Code-Reuse Attacks and Defenses”, supervised by CYSEC-PI Prof. Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi. Lucas Davi is now an Assistant Professor at University Duisburg-Essen.