Security and Privacy

This field focuses on foundational and practical aspects of security, trust, privacy, and accountability in computer systems. Topics of study include formal analysis of security properties; anonymity networks; privacy and trust issues in mobile apps, social networks, and Web advertising; and accountability in distributed systems, to name just a few.

Groups and Researchers in this Field


Information Security and Cryptography

Michael Backes is a computer science professor at Saarland University, Director of the Center for IT-Security, Privacy, and Accountability, a Max Planck Fellow of the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, and a Principal Investigator and Vice-Coordinator of the Cluster of Excellence on Multimodal Computing and Interaction. He leads the Information Security & Cryptography group, focusing on aspects of IT security and privacy, from design, analysis, and verification of protocols and systems, mechanisms for protecting end-user privacy, and research on new attack vectors to universal solutions in software and network security. Backes’ current main research focus is on the ERC Synergy Grant imPACT, which aims to provide foundations for privacy, accountability, compliance, and trust on the Internet of the future. Read more

Michael Backes

Michael Backes

MPI-SWS, Max Planck Fellow

Personal Website

Distributed Systems

Peter Druschel is the founding director of the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, where he leads the Distributed Systems research group. He is also an adjunct professor at Saarland University, Associate Director of the Center for IT-Security, Privacy, and Accountability, and a Principal Investigator in the Cluster of Excellence on Multimodal Computing and Interaction. He has received an NSF CAREER Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, and the Mark Weiser Award. His research interests are in understanding, designing, and building computer systems. In the past, he has worked on operating systems, network services, peer-to-peer systems, and accountable distributed systems. Currently, he is interested in practical techniques to make distributed and mobile systems secure, accountable, and privacy-preserving. Read more

Peter Druschel

Peter Druschel

MPI-SWS, Faculty

Personal Website

Privacy Issues Surrounding Online Tracking

Paul Francis is on the faculty of the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, where he leads a research group in the Security & Privacy area. In the past, his research focused on routing and addressing problems in the Internet and P2P networks, with innovations including NAT, shared-tree multicast, the first P2P multicast system, the first DHT (as part of landmark routing), and virtual aggregation. His current research focuses on privacy issues surrounding online tracking. The primary economic drivers of user tracking are behavioral advertising and analytics; his group designs and builds systems that allow for advertising and analytics without violating individual user privacy. In addition, he has co-founded the startup aircloak.com, which uses a “cloaked computing” approach as a basis for private analytics. Read more

Paul Francis

Paul Francis

MPI-SWS, Faculty

Personal Website

Computer Security Group

Deepak Garg’s interests include computer security and privacy, formal logic, and programming languages. He is head of the Foundations of Computer Security group, associated with both the Security & Privacy and the Programming Languages & Verification research areas at the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems. The group’s current projects investigate tracking and controlling flows of sensitive information through Web browsers, using type systems to statically estimate the asymptotic complexity of incremental runs of programs, creating mechanisms to enforce data protection policies across multiple system infrastructure layers, extending separation logics to reason about security protocols, and developing foundations and algorithms for temporal logic-based privacy audits of legal compliance, among others. Read more

Deepak Garg

Deepak Garg

MPI-SWS, Faculty

Personal Website

Social Computing

Krishna Gummadi heads the Social Computing research group at the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems. He is broadly interested in understanding and building networked and distributed computer systems. Currently, the group’s research focuses on social computing systems: an emerging class of societal-scale human-computer systems that facilitate interactions and knowledge exchange between individuals, organizations, and governments in our society. A few examples include social networking sites like Facebook, blogging and microblogging sites like LiveJournal and Twitter, and content sharing sites like YouTube, among many others. Through user studies, examining data, and building systems, the group aims to understand, predict, and control the behavior of their constituent human users and computer systems. Read more

Krishna Gummadi

Krishna Gummadi

MPI-SWS, Faculty

Personal Website