Goethe University co-ordinates mega-project on cybersecurity and data protection

An extensive research project on cybersecurity and data protection in Europe will be launched this week. Goethe University Frankfurt has assumed the leadership and co-ordination of the 43 total consortium partners from science, business, industry and society.

With a total grant amount of € 16 million, ‘mega’ is hardly an exaggerated designation for the project “CyberSec4Europe”. The European Commission desires to set international standards in cybersecurity and boost the effectiveness of Europe’s security capacities. The goal of the new “Horizon 2020” programme’s initiative is to establish and operate a cybersecurity competence network and develop a strategy for cybersecurity and data protection as European branches (industries). The Commission selected a total of four projects for the pilot, of which “CyberSec4Europe”, co-ordinated by business informatics expert Professor Kai Rannenberg from Goethe University in Frankfurt, comprises the most EU member states, and is concerned with domains that are relevant to every EU citizen such as banking, healthcare, identity management and smart cities.

Prof. Kai Rannenberg and Prof. Indra Spiecker

“A flagship project like this is of great significance for Goethe University,” comments University President Professor Birgitta Wolff with regard to the noteworthy achievement. “We have great expertise in matters of information security and data protection. It is wonderful that this now enables us to make a contribution within the European context.” “Our main tasks are the strategic coordination and organisation of the project,” explains Professor Kai Rannenberg, who holds the Chair for Mobile Business and Multilateral Security at Goethe University and who conceived this project. He will co-ordinate the consortium from Frankfurt. Staff has been and will continue to be recruited for the project, as the funding applies retroactively to 1st February 2019.

CyberSec4Europe’s official two-day kick-off event starts on 28 February in Brussels. During the course of a public event on the evening of the first day, attendees will hear a panel of distinguished speakers representing stakeholder organisations expressing their expectations from the Cybersecurity Competence Network Centre pilot projects. The focus will be on cybersecurity and data protection in the economy, infrastructures, society and democracy.

CyberSec4Europe will build on existing structures such as “Trust in Digital Life” (TDL), the European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO) and the Council of European Informatics Societies (CEPIS), and brings experts together from various disciplines. The 43 consortium partners from 20 European Union countries, as well as from Norway and Switzerland, include research establishments from enterprises such as Siemens or ATOS in addition to universities and research institutes. Within the next 42 months they will all collaborate to strengthen the research and innovation competence of the EU in cybersecurity.

The question of “governance” is of primary concern: How can data protection be regulated, who has authority in which areas? Seven key demonstration cases will be investigated to ensure a close connection to real-world situations. “We want to use these real-life examples to investigate where structures, regulations and technology are lacking,” says Professor Rannenberg, Lead Co-ordinator of the consortium. The Payment Service Directive 2 (PSD2) is one example. PSD2 is intended to make the switch to a new financial service provider easier for customers by enabling the new provider to access the necessary bank data through interfaces. But what can be done to protect customer data from unauthorised access?

The Faculty of Law at Goethe University Frankfurt is also involved in the project in the person of data protection expert Professor Indra Spiecker. She heads the central subproject on the development of a European cybersecurity governance. “We will take up pertinent citizen-friendly regulations such as the European Data Protection Regulation and examine their implementation and management, applying what we learn to cybersecurity,” says Spiecker.

The € 16 million will be distributed to the consortium partners from the central location of Goethe University. Approximately € 2 million will remain at Goethe University.

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