Published: 20 October 2016

Cyber security experts join Surrey

A leading global authority on trusted computing who has spent nearly 20 years with Hewlett Packard (HP) Labs has been appointed as the University’s Professor in Secure Systems.

Professor Liqun Chen joins three other new academics in the area: Dr François Dupressoir, from IMDEA Software Institute in Madrid; Dr David Williams, from Thales UK and Dr Thanassis Giannetsos from KTH Sweden.

Dr Helen Treharne, Head of the Department of Computer Science, said: “It is an exciting time for the Department as we grow the number of staff to support the increasing number of undergraduate students and to build strength in the areas of secure systems and machine learning with applications including autonomous systems, rail information systems, healthcare and urban living.2

Professor Chen will lead research into hardware security and cryptography – a key specialism within the Surrey Centre for Cyber Security. She was principal research scientist in the Security and Manageability Laboratory at HP.

Professor Chen has invented or co-invented cryptographic solutions which have been incorporated into international standards and used in applications used by millions of people every day. In the late 1990s, she was instrumental in developing the trusted platform module (TPM), a hardware chip that ensures security by integrating cryptographic keys and algorithms into devices.

In the early 2000s – working with IBM and Intel colleagues – she co-designed Direct Anonymous Attestation (DAA), a special digital signature scheme which provides the signer with authentication whilst maintaining their privacy. To date, over a billion TPMs have been shipped and embedded in various computer systems, each incorporating DAA and other cryptographic functions to which Professor Chen has contributed.

During her time at HP Labs, Professor Chen also designed and co-designed a number of cryptographic solutions which are now used in HP products.

In her role as Professor in Secure Systems, Professor Chen will help develop cyber security research at the highest level at Surrey, and develop strategic partnerships with other groups in the University and externally. An important part of her role will be to collaborate with the Institute for Communication Systems, 5G Innovation Centre and Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, driving research in areas such as Big Data and eHealth. Drawing on her industry experience, she will also contribute valuable teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Professor Chen, who held posts at Royal Holloway, University of London, University of Oxford and Southeast University in China prior to joining HP Labs, said: “When this opportunity arose, I realised that I was keen to return to teaching and working with students as I found the work very rewarding. In addition, having worked on information security research for over 25 years, I was keen to work in what GCHQ regards as an academic centre of excellence in cyber security research.

“I aim to build Surrey’s reputation for cryptography and secure systems research further by developing algorithms that are used in the real world and become incorporated in standards. Security is everywhere – this is a good time for research in this field.”

Professor Steve Schneider, Director of the Surrey Centre for Cyber Security, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Liqun Chen to the Department of Computer Science. Her unparalleled experience in the field of trusted computing, and her role in developing some of the key technologies we use today, will enable us to break new ground in our research in areas such as security verification and data privacy.” 

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