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Nele Mentens joins LIACS as Professor of Applied Cryptography & Data Security

Finding solutions for economically and socially relevant problems in digital data security. That is what Nele Mentens, Professor of Applied Cryptography & Data Security at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS), wants to achieve. On 1 June she was appointed to contribute to the institute with her expertise in digital security.

Cryptographic chips

In addition to the new appointment at LIACS, Mentens has been associate professor at KU Leuven since 2014. Here she focuses on the implementation of cryptographic algorithms. 'The goal is to keep energy consumption and cost price as low as possible', says Mentens. 'For example, in collaboration with imec, we developed cryptographic chips on plastic substrates, which are much cheaper than traditional silicon chips.' Another aspect of her research focuses on configurable hardware platforms to make network security more efficient and effective. 'We are working on systems that can detect attacks in networks at very high speeds, based on both statistical methods and artificial intelligence,' adds Mentens. 

Hardware versus software

'Many challenges and unresolved data security problems in traditional networks and Internet-of-Things (IoT) networks require a hardware level approach,' says Mentens. 'On the one hand, this is necessary to achieve systems that are acceptable to the end user in terms of energy consumption, cost price and execution speed. On the other hand, it allows us to achieve a higher level of security, because it is much more difficult for attackers to make changes to the hardware of a system than to the software.' At LIACS she therefore wants to work specifically on hardware-based solutions for the security of digital systems and networks. 

Mentens also wants to strengthen the interdisciplinary collaboration between KU Leuven and Leiden University. 'LIACS has a broad expertise in artificial intelligence and I therefore hope to make a link with my research, and to explore collaborations within the institute', Mentens concludes. 

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