TU Wien Informatics

20 Years

Opening of the TU Wien Cybersecurity Center (CySec)

  • By Olha Denisova
  • 2024-04-23
  • Opening Event
  • Cybersecurity

On April 18, 2024, we inaugurated our Cybersecurity Center (CySec) with a high-profile event. A significant milestone in the field of cybersecurity.

Opening of the TU Wien Cybersecurity Center (CySec)
Picture: Simon Jeanteur / TU Wien Informatics

The launch of the TU Wien Cybersecurity Center (CySec) attracted a diverse group of influential figures from various university faculties, leading industry representatives, and prominent government agencies. Notable participants included the Federal Chancellery of Austria; the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science, and Research (BMBWF); the Ministry of the Interior (BMI); as well as major corporations such as Amazon, Microsoft Research, UniCredit Bank Austria, and TÜV Austria. The event also gathered experts from the National Coordination Center for Cybersecurity, Cyber Security Austria, Competence Center Safe Austria (KSÖ), the Vienna City Administration, the Vienna Science and Technology Fund (WWTF), the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), the Vienna Business Agency, SBA Research, and the Austrian Institute of Technology. This diverse assembly of researchers, practitioners, and decision-makers shared a common goal: to forge strong collaborations and exchange knowledge to tackle cybersecurity challenges locally and globally.

This initiative by TU Wien aims to position the newly established Cybersecurity Center as a globally recognized hub for research excellence, innovative education, and community engagement in cybersecurity. The center is dedicated to advancing state-of-the-art cybersecurity measures, enhancing digital security infrastructure, and cultivating a skilled workforce prepared to address the evolving challenges in cybersecurity.


The event was opened by the Co-Director of CySec, Prof. Tanja Zseby, who highlighted the diversity of stakeholders and expressed optimism about the potential for synergies among these groups to enhance cybersecurity efforts across Austria. She underscored the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration among fields such as electrical engineering, mathematics, informatics, and physics, which she noted as vital for addressing complex cybersecurity challenges. Speaking on behalf of the Dean of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, Prof. Zseby emphasized the importance of a research focus on network security, particularly on detecting and controlling malware spread and hiding within network traffic. She praised the resilience and dedication of practitioners working under constrained resources and called for increased collaboration between academia and industry to enhance security measures.

Prof. Wolfgang Kastner, Vice-Rector for Digitalization and Infrastructure, welcomed the participants on behalf of the Rectorate and emphasized the alignment of the CySec launch with TU Wien’s strategic goals. He outlined three primary objectives for the center: enhancing interdisciplinary exchanges within academia and industry, strengthening educational pathways to address the shortage of cybersecurity experts, and increasing societal awareness about cybersecurity through outreach activities. Prof. Kastner also highlighted the importance of integrating TU Wien’s IT security staff into innovative practices to align the administration with the center’s objectives. He stressed the collective responsibility of advancing cybersecurity initiatives at the university.

Dean of the Faculty of Informatics at TU Wien, Prof. Gerti Kappel, highlighted the significant impact of cybersecurity across economic, political, and private spheres, emphasizing its role in protecting liberal democratic values through data protection, privacy, data sovereignty, and transparency. She outlined the critical contribution of the Faculty of Informatics to major research areas, including artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, and called for increased interdisciplinary collaboration and resources to enhance the university’s response to the dynamic challenges in information security. Prof. Kappel also stressed the need for comprehensive security measures across hardware, software, and systems and advocated for ongoing expansion in risk management and quantum cryptography to foster continual innovation and adaptation in cybersecurity practices.

Co-Director of CySec, Prof. Matteo Maffei introduced the center, emphasizing its role as an inter-faculty hub designed to address complex challenges in today’s digital society through interdisciplinary research. Established in June 2023, the center unites expertise from various faculties, including informatics, electrical engineering, physics, statistics, and architecture. It comprises 22 faculty members and 150 researchers, including PhD students and postdocs. The center’s mission is to enhance and leverage the existing capabilities at TU Wien to establish it as a global leader in cybersecurity research, education, and societal outreach. CySec has already achieved significant milestones, notably in addressing the global shortage of IT and cybersecurity professionals. TU Wien has established a comprehensive educational pipeline from bachelor to PhD levels, designed to attract students worldwide who are interested in specializing in cybersecurity. Additionally, CySec is engaged in educational initiatives at school levels, aiming not only to raise cybersecurity awareness among children but also to equip teachers with the necessary resources to effectively educate students about security.

TU Wien measures its research excellence not just by prestigious grants and academic publications but also by the societal impact of its research. Currently, the center manages around 16 million euros in funding, primarily used to support the salaries of its students and postdocs, thus significantly contributing to the local economy. CySec’s research has led to substantial real-world applications, improving the security of daily transactions involving major cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance systems. For instance, the center has developed protocols that strengthen the security of smart contracts and web security standards, which are implemented globally across millions of contracts and numerous web platforms. Other prominent research focuses on fortifying the infrastructure against cyber threats and safeguarding mobile and IoT devices.


In the keynote “The Business of Proof,” Prof. Byron Cook of Amazon AWS explored how formal methods enhance system reliability and security, emphasizing their commercial value. Following him, Prof. Nikolaj Bjorner from Microsoft Research discussed in “Formal Methods at Microsoft: Secure and Reliable Programs for Everyone, Everywhere” how these methods help develop secure, reliable software globally. Both presentations highlighted the critical role of formal methods in improving software standards at major tech companies like Amazon and Microsoft.


Participants in the panel discussion explored various existing collaborations with TUW CySec and discussed ways to further bridge the gap between the scientific community and the business sector. Stephanie Jakoubi from SBA Research detailed how CySec is actively collaborating with SBA Research and Women for Cyber to organize events, mentoring workshops, and training sessions, with a specific emphasis on developing female cybersecurity specialists. Andreas Köberl from TÜV Austria highlighted a successful partnership with TUW, which led to the creation of the S3 Safety Security Systems Lab. He noted this lab facilitates close cooperation with the scientific community from various industries and supports students, particularly PhD candidates. Joe Pichlmayr (IKARUS Security Software) spoke about the benefits of long-term collaborations and expressed hope for establishing more sustainable initiatives that could significantly impact society in Austria, across Europe, and globally. He emphasized a shared focus on developing a capacity-building program to inspire and train young people, educators, and trainers in cybersecurity. CySec and Cyber Security Austria are already working in this direction and are jointly organizing the Austrian Cyber Security Challenge, a leading IT security competition for students, and leading the Austrian team in the European Cyber Security Challenges. Daniele Sangion from UniCredit Bank Austria, in his speech, focused particularly on the significance of the threats we are facing and the global risks. The expected losses due to cybercrime are projected to incur a global cost of 10.5 trillion dollars. Amidst escalating misinformation related to AI, cybersecurity vulnerabilities, technological risks, and increasing losses due to cybercrime, coupled with a shortage of security experts, he underlined the urgent need for a collective effort and international collaboration to comprehensively tackle cybersecurity challenges. Hanna Wilhelmer from the Federal Chancellery of Austria outlined key challenges in cybersecurity from a policy angle during her presentation. She discussed the importance of raising awareness, defining Europe’s role in cybersecurity development, capacity building, and enhancing community and expert engagement. Wilhelmer detailed the function of the National Coordination Centre for Cybersecurity (NCC) and emphasized the need for an integrated approach and robust public-private partnerships, particularly involving the European Cybersecurity Competence Center. Wilhelmer concluded her speech by highlighting forthcoming opportunities in the Horizon Europe program, specifically mentioning significant research funding for areas like post-quantum cryptography and tracking cryptocurrency transactions linked to criminal activities. She encouraged the audience, especially PhD students and researchers, to use the resources provided by the Austrian Research and Promotion Agency to craft project proposals and establish collaborations for European funding programs, with the ultimate aim of strengthening Europe’s cybersecurity framework.


In a compelling discussion, speakers underscored the crucial role of universities in imparting cybersecurity knowledge to a broader audience spanning industry and the public sector. They called for heightened cybersecurity awareness among top executives across various domains, including government and private sectors, labeling it a critical step toward broader cybersecurity integration. The dialogue further delved into the necessity for progressive educational strategies to address the rapidly evolving challenges posed by new technologies and emerging threats. Participants stressed the value of critical thinking and the adoption of a zero-trust security model, advocating for a departure from traditional methods in favor of more creative solutions. Additionally, the discussion acknowledged that cybersecurity involves more than just technical skills—it also demands effective communication and stringent risk management.

The consensus among the speakers highlighted the significance of CySec’s interdisciplinary strategy, which not only concentrates on advanced research but also endeavors to close gaps in the comprehension and practical application of cybersecurity. This strategy is designed to ensure that all involved parties fully grasp the need for thorough cybersecurity practices, ultimately boosting the resilience of both societal structures and business ecosystems against cyber threats.


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