Cyber-attacks can cause big damage: theft of sensitive data, failure of safety-critical equipment or disruption of vital communication networks. In January 2019, the Cyber Defence Campus (CYD) was established to anticipate and counter cyber threats. Since then, CYD has been promoting new solutions to major challenges in the fields of security and data science. In that context, CYD has joined forces with EPFL to launch the “CYD Fellowships – A Talent Program for Cyber-Defence Research.” The program recognizes and supports researchers by awarding Master Thesis, Doctoral and Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowships. One of the first recipients of the CYD Doctoral Fellowship is Dina G. Mahmoud, Doctoral Assistant at EPFL’s School of Computer and Communication Sciences.

Dina first visited EPFL in summer 2018, as part of the Summer@EPFL internship program (1.9% acceptance rate). In 2019, Dina won an EPFL IC School Fellowship and entered the EDIC doctoral program. Her research, in collaboration with Mirjana Stojilović, focuses on fault attacks on FPGA-based platforms. Dina’s work was published at the “Design, Automation and Test in Europe” (DATE) conference in 2019 and the “Field-Programmable Logic and Applications” (FPL) conference in 2020.

The CYD doctoral fellowship will provide Dina with salary, research and travel expenses for three years (with a possible one-year extension). She was selected based on her strong background on hardware security and her motivation to engage with critical issues in cyber defence.

As a CYD Doctoral Fellow, Dina will conduct research on vulnerabilities and backdoors in heterogeneous hardware platforms, for protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of cyber and cyber-physical systems.

The CYD-EPFL joint initiative is expected to play a major role in encouraging the training of the next generation of leading researchers in cyber-security in Switzerland, of which Dina is a prime example. Apart from the Fellowship program to train young researchers, the CYD Campus also works to identify new developments in cyber space, promote technological and market monitoring and international scouting, and develop a collaboration network with industry leaders and academia.

We congratulate Dina G. Mahmoud on her award and hope that the CYD Fellowship will lead her to pioneering scientific achievements.