Strengthening Hessen’s Cybersecurity Research

Goethe University joins Germany’s ATHENE National Research Center for Applied Cybersecurity

Protecting the cybersecurity of society, business and the state, and fending off threats: That is the goal of ATHENE, the National Research Center for Applied Cybersecurity. Through its research and development, Goethe University now is contributing to Europe’s largest cybersecurity research center.  

Almost every company at one point or another falls victim to IT-based attacks. In addition, online attackers are becoming increasingly professional, Germany’s digital association Bitkom, which represents more than 2,000 companies of the digital economy, has found. The ATHENE National Research Center for Applied Cybersecurity already bundles the cybersecurity activities of several top research institutions. Goethe University recently joined these ranks and is now doing its part to strengthen and complement ATHENE’s cybersecurity research. 

The main topics of cybersecurity research at Goethe University are system and network security, secure identities, privacy-friendly technologies as well as legal issues surrounding IT security and data protection.

“The number of cyberattacks is rising significantly worldwide. Bitkom data show that German companies alone will suffer damages of more than 200 billion euros in 2022 due to data theft, espionage or sabotage. At the state level, too, we are increasingly confronted with new threats, and not just since the war in Ukraine,” explains Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, President of Germany’s Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft applied research organization. “The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft’s National Research Center for Applied Cybersecurity ATHENE addresses current and future challenges through application-oriented, innovative and cutting-edge research, with a view to improving cybersecurity and privacy protection across all areas of life and critical infrastructures. By joining ATHENE, Goethe University Frankfurt not only contributes its complementary expertise in the fields of law, medicine and finance. It will also further expedite the advisory competence and innovative power of this unique cooperation model.”

Goethe University President Prof. Enrico Schleiff adds: “ATHENE’s innovative cooperation model offers us unique opportunities to research the challenges of an increasingly digital world and to develop solutions and answers for society, business and politics. Goethe University’s contribution is particularly focused on system and network security, high-performance computing security, as well as data protection and legal aspects of cybersecurity. We also view ATHENE as a significant component in further strengthening the Rhine-Main location, which already is an international leader in IT security.”

Goethe University is represented on the ATHENE board by Prof. Haya Shulman, who was appointed to a top LOEWE professorship in cybersecurity at Goethe University’s Department of Computer Science in February of this year. She heads the Cybersecurity Analytics and Defenses department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology (Fraunhofer-Institut SIT) in Darmstadt and coordinates the Analytics Based Cybersecurity research area at the ATHENE National Research Center for Applied Cybersecurity. Director of ATHENE is Prof. Michael Waidner, head of the Fraunhofer-Institut SIT and professor at the Technical University of Darmstadt, a Goethe University partner in the Strategic Alliance of Rhine-Main Universities (RMU).

The ATHENE National Research Center for Applied Cybersecurity is a Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft research center that brings together the Fraunhofer Institutes for Secure Information Technology (SIT) and for Computer Graphics Research (IGD), the Technical University of Darmstadt, Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences and now also Goethe University. With more than 600 participating scientists, including 50 professors, ATHENE is the largest cybersecurity research center in Europe and Germany’s leading scientific research institution. ATHENE’s roughly 100 research projects in currently 13 research areas are dedicated to the important challenges cyber security poses for society, the economy and the state. ATHENE works with leading research institutions from around the world; a special relationship exists with Israel, where ATHENE operates the Fraunhofer Cybersecurity Innovation Platform together with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

ATHENE is a permanent Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft research center funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Hessian Ministry of Science and the Arts (HMWK). In 2022, ATHENE’s funding amounted to around 23 million euros.

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