Faculty News

Daniel Gruss & Stefan Mangard:
Cybersecurity Experts

September 08th, 2022


On the occasion of the IT attack on the city of Feldbach, some media get an assessment from cybersecurity experts of the Graz University of Technology: The Kleine Zeitung interviewed Daniel Gruss ("Mostly the human factor is the weak point"), the ORF talked to Stefan Mangard for orf.at, radio and TV.

 

Christian Daye:
Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award 2022

August 31st, 2022


Christian Daye from our Institute of Interactive Systems and Data Science has received the Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award 2022 of the American Sociological Association (ASA), section History of Sociology and Social Thought. Without doubt, the ASA is most influential disciplinary organization in sociology worldwide. In its justificatory remarks, the award committee emphasized that the book provided a pathbreaking analysis of the interplay between expertise, scientific foresight, and technology in times of crises.

Links: News of American Sociological Association (ASA)

New EU-project to initiate an open European infrastructure in web search

August 24th, 2022

The OpenWebSearch.EU project, which is now being funded to the tune of 8.5 million euros as part of the EU’s Horizon Europe funding programme, is intended to contribute to the noble goals of a digitally sovereign Europe and an open, fair search engine market. The project is coordinated around 14 European research and computing centres by the University of Passau; TU Graz is centrally involved with Christian Gütl and Alexander Nussbaumer from our Institute of Interactive Systems and Data Science.

Links: official TU Graz Story

ÆPIC Leak:
Security problem in Intel CPUs

August 09th, 2022




The terms "Meltdown" and "Spectre" caused an alarm in an entire industry a few years ago. After the discovery of this fundamental flaw in current processors, many manufacturers had to react with firmware updates, often with significant performance losses.
Researchers at Graz University of Technology around Daniel Gruß were involved in the discovery of these gaps at the time. And they are now reporting a new discovery. One that is unlikely to cause much enthusiasm, at least at Intel.

With ÆPIC Leak another problem in current Intel CPUs is now public. Attackers can access data from the cache hierarchy in certain Intel processors.
What makes the whole thing particularly unpleasant is that in this case it really is a fundamental flaw in the architecture of the affected chips, which makes attacks work extremely reliably. The error is found in the Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller (APIC) of the CPU, specifically in its MMIO (memory-mapped I/O). In a CPU, the APIC is responsible for accepting, prioritizing and redistributing interrupts.
The researchers roughly describe the attack as a kind of "an uninitialized memory read in the CPU itself". More technical details about the attack are available in a whitepaper.

This all sounds pretty unpleasant, but an attacker needs high privilege; i.e. he must be root or administrator, to be allowed to access the APIC MMIO at all. And whoever has these privileges can of course access all kinds of data on the system.
However, this is relevant for those systems where the Intel Software Guard Extensions (SGX) is used. This is particularly unpleasant, since SGX is explicitly designed as a high-security area. The real protection of SGX has often been in doubt in the past.

Intel has already been informed in advance by the researchers, accordingly there should soon be corresponding updates for the microcode of the CPU as well as for the development kit for SGX, which should make the attack impossible. In any case, the problem should be eliminated directly in the hardware in future processor generations.

In addition to the website and the white paper on the attack, the TU Graz researchers have also made a Github repository with demonstration code available.

Links: ÆPIC Leak Website, Github Repository incl. Demo-Code, Whitepaperofficial TU Graz Story

© Baustaedter, TU Graz

Christian Rechberger:
Cryptographic Algorithm Becomes US Standard

July 11nd, 2022



Extremely powerful computers of the future require alternative encryption and signature methods. In a six-year process, the US authority NIST has now elevated four post-quantum algorithms to standard status – one of which bears the signature of TU Graz.

With the advancing development of quantum computers, IT security must also reposition itself. The US federal agency National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) is aware of the potential danger posed by quantum computers for secure data encryption and launched a process in 2016 to standardize quantum computer-resistant cryptographic procedures. Research groups from all over the world submitted concepts for the next generation of cryptographic algorithms, so-called post-quantum algorithms; 15 made it to the finals. NIST’s decision was eagerly awaited by authorities and companies worldwide, as experience shows that international standards follow the assessment of the US authority.

Six years later, the decision has now been made. Four post-quantum cryptography algorithms will become standard – one of these algorithms, the signature algorithm SPHINCS+, bears the handwriting of TU Graz. Christian Rechberger, cryptography expert at the Institute of Applied Information Processing and Communications, comments: “In the world of IT security, this decision is of enormous relevance. We’re going to find these algorithms in every piece of software, in every chip; from industrial plants to private mobile phones, from data centres to the pressure sensor in car tyres.”

Read more at TU Graz

CSBME @ Dragonboat Racing, Graz Riverdays

July 2nd, 2022

The dragonboat races were organized by the Canoe Club Graz, with the support of the Lions Club Graz Schlossberg.
The race course for the dragon boat races was from the Berta-von-Suttner-Bridge to the Augarten. The dragon boat regatta was organized for a good cause and companies, universities, as well as schools paddled on the river Mura to compete.

Participating Teams at the University-Cup:
Lucky Boat, TUG TUG, Pädagogische Hochschule Steiermark (Elgrid`s Wikinger), Freiwillige FF der TU Graz, Campus 02, Kunstuniversität Graz, CSBME (Computer Sience Biomedical Engeneering), iMoox, FH Joanneum.

Participants at our CSBME boat:
Ursula Augsdörfer, Horst Bischof, Roderick Bloem, Friedrich Fraundorfer, Denis Helic, Roman Kern, Phillip Klug, Stefanie Lindstaedt, Sigrid Öllinger, Robert Peharz, Johanna Pirker, Theresa Rienmüller, Jörg Schröttner, Wolfgang Slany. Gerald  Steinbauer-Wagner, Leila Taher, Eduardo Veas, Birgit Vogtenhuber, Martina Wetzl-Piewald and last but not least Bernhard Wieser

© Johanna Pirker

From Vienna to Graz: Girls like gaming!

June 3rd, 2022

Almost 60 girls came all the way from HTL Spengergasse in Vienna and visited our faculty to learn more about games, esports and game development. Thanks to Johanna Pirker for hosting them!

Master´s student Klemens Strasser in the finals of the Apple Design Award

June 03th, 2022

Klemens Strasser has already been to the epicenter of the smartphone world four times - last Monday, the Styrian flew to Apple's headquarters in Cupertino for the fifth time. The occasion was a nomination. The video game "Letter Rooms" developed by Strasser has been selected as one of the finalists for the Apple Design Award (ADA). Letter Rooms" was nominated in the category "Inclusivity". Letter Rooms" can also be played by visually impaired people, and Strasser also uses a special font for dyslexics. The letter puzzle has been listed in the App Store for a good year, and has been downloaded almost 20,000 times.

© Tim Herman/Intel Corporation

Significant Energy Savings Using Neuromorphic Hardware

May 24th, 2022

For the first time our Institute of Theoretical Computer Science and Intel Labs demonstrated experimentally that a large neural network can process sequences such as sentences while consuming four to sixteen times less energy while running on neuromorphic hardware than non-neuromorphic hardware. The new research based on Intel Labs’ Loihi neuromorphic research chip that draws on insights from neuroscience to create chips that function similar to those in the biological brain.

The research was funded by The Human Brain Project (HBP), one of the largest research projects in the world with more than 500 scientists and engineers across Europe studying the human brain. The results of the research are published in the research paper “Memory for AI Applications in Spike-based Neuromorphic Hardware” which in published in Nature Machine Intelligence.
Part of the project is Wolfgang Maass from our Institute of Theoretical Computer Science. He deals with the question of how the information processing in the human brain works and how this could be used for computer applications.

Read more @ TU Graz

© Phillip Klug | TU Graz

Snapchat sees potential in TU Graz' Mixed Reality

May 18th, 2022

The new working group "Mixed Reality" supported by Snap Inc. will develop visionary software methods in the field of camera technology, and explore new approaches to visual information processing at the interface of digital and physical reality.
Snap Inc. is now funding a tenure-track professorship including assistant and post-doctoral positions at our Institute of Computer Graphics and Vision at Graz University of Technology for a period of six years. Key topics of the new working group to be established include developing visionary software methods in the field of camera technology, and exploring new approaches to visual information processing at the interface of digital and physical reality. The endowed professorship will also pursue new application ideas for mixed reality, in particular the perfect visual fusion of photos with computer-generated content. The position will be advertised internationally and filled by the end of 2022.

“We are convinced that in the future people will have an even greater interest in digital experiences in our real world and for this to happen naturally – for example via augmented reality glasses – more research is needed. We are therefore delighted about this partnership with TU Graz and are looking forward to the results of the research team,” says Daniel Wagner, Director of Computer Vision Engineering at Snap Inc.

Read more @ TU Graz

© Lunghammer, TU Graz

Locked-In Syndrome
Ending Isolation with Brain-Computer-Interfaces

May 13th, 2022

People with locked-in syndrome (LIS) are enormously restricted in their communication. Implantable brain-computer interfaces that decode speech in real time from brain signals should help free users from isolation.
People with degenerative diseases of muscle-controlling nerves such as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) are at risk of losing complete muscle control. This leads to locked-in syndrome (LIS), where the affected person is completely paralysed and can no longer communicate despite still being fully aware – a frightening and extremely challenging situation for the affected person, their family and also the nursing staff.
A European research consortium led by the Dutch University Medical Center UMC Utrecht and with participation of TU Graz has now been selected for funding by EU grant of almost 6 million euros from the European Innovation Council (Pathfinder Programme). The project called INTRECROM aims to develop and test a fully implantable brain-computer interface (BCI) technology specifically for people with locked-in syndrome.

Gernot Müller-Putz from our Institute of Neurotechnology is part of the project and is still looking for interested young researchers to join the project team.The INTRECOM project will run from autumn 2022 until autumn 2026.

Read more @ TU Graz
More information about INTRECROM.

© ENARIS

Enaris:
Free workshops for municipalities

May 04th, 2022

Playful, low-threshold workshops held directly in communities are designed to spark interest in artificial intelligence (AI) among the general population and promote an informed, critical awareness of AI. Registrations are now open.
"From grandchildren to grandparents, everyone is welcome to take an hour and a half to three hours to learn about AI technologies," emphasizes Gerald Steinbauer-Wagner from our Institute of Software Technology. He and his team, together with the Austrian Computer Society (OCG) and the Mobilis Science Center in Györ, Hungary, are behind the program called ENARIS (Education and Awareness for Intelligent Systems). The common goal is to present everyday phenomena related to artificial intelligence in short, interactive and low-threshold workshops.

Read more @ TU Graz (german)
More information about Enaris: enaris.ist.tugraz.at

© Tierney - stock.adobe.com

Rudolf Stollberger:
5G does not pose new risks

May 02nd, 2022

Rudolf Stollberger from our Institute of Biomedical Imaging has been working on the effect of high-frequency electromagnetic fields on humans for decades in the context of magnetic resonance imaging. This field is actually well researched, Stollberger emphasizes. He concludes that there is no evidence of any real health-damaging effect, as is the case with UV light, for example. This also applies to the previous generations of mobile communications.

But what is in store for us with the new mobile communications standard? From Stollberger's point of view, 5G does not pose any specific new risks. The way signals are transmitted is different, he says. But that would not have a different effect on people. 5G is a new protocol that allows data to be transmitted faster and new networking possibilities to be realized. Nothing changes in the mechanism of action between electromagnetic fields and the human body compared with current mobile communications standards.

(Rudolf Stollberger talked with Salzburger Nachrichten, published on April 29th)

© VCLA @ Kirchberg a.d. Raab

Diary of a female Computer Scientist

April 30th, 2022

Last week the project Diary of a female Computer Scientist (dt.: Tagebuch der Informatikerin) took place all over Austria, organized by VCLA (Vienna Center of Logic and Algorithms). In several secondary schools in Vienna and Styria, girls aged 11-14 talked to programmers, coders, computer scientists or hardware specialists about what connects them to computer science.

The participants were able to find out what is exciting about the digital language "code", where it is used everywhere and what the daily work of a programmer is like. Katarina Pavlovskaya, health informatics student at the FH Joanneum in Graz was on tour with a colleague in 2 Styrian schools and said: "The girls were enthusiastic about what we do. Unfortunately, there are still far too many prejudices, many don't know that many women already work as programmers. In addition, many think that we sit alone in front of the computer all day. Yet the work of a female computer scientist consists largely of joint meetings, group work and communication."

In Kirchberg an der Raab, more than 50 female students from first grade to fourth grade attended the one-hour workshop. The feedback from the schoolgirls was "simply perfect," as Director Christine Fischer puts it. Before the workshop, just 1 in 20 girls could imagine doing something with technology and IT. Florian Ungerböck from our Office for Gender Equality and Equal Opportunity explains it this way: "Programming often takes place in closed areas that are not very visible to the outside world. There needs to be more exchange with people from the field, even in basic digital education and in science lessons in elementary school, in order to make these professions and the training courses more attractive."

Johanna Pirker:
Gamification in medicine: playing for health

April 25th, 2022


Play applications are used in hospitals for doctors, nurses and patients, among others. Johanna Pirker from our Institute of Interactive Systems and Data Science sees great potential in this virtual reality in medicine in general. For example, surgical procedures can be trained in advance in a computer-generated room that doctors enter virtually using data glasses and game controllers.
However, VR technologies could be used successfully not only for training operations, but also increasingly in therapies - for example, for dementia - or as a distraction in the case of pain or fear of injections. They are also particularly important for enabling terminally ill people to have certain experiences.

PC and cell phone games can also make a significant contribution to health. Sick and healthy people are thus motivated to exercise more, accompanied through tedious therapies or supported with useful knowledge. For example, a research team led by Pirker and biotechnologist Gabriele Berg is currently working on a knowledge transfer game.

Maria Eichlseder:
"Everyone has a right to privacy"

April 21st, 2022


Nothing works without cryptography: encryption algorithms form the basis of every digital network. Maria Eichlseder, working group leader at the Institute for Applied Information Processing and Communication Technology, conducts research at the highest international level on new mathematical methods that enable the world to communicate securely. Whether we are making phone calls, online purchases or sending messages, it is always a matter of protecting the data transmitted, i.e. making it unreadable and unchangeable for third parties.

The globally standardized cryptographic procedures are subject to constant testing, evaluation and further development. This is where Eichlseder's specialty comes in: cryptanalysis: "I try to crack systems with ever new methods and measure how secure or efficient they (still) are. With this knowledge, we in turn develop new procedures." In addition, the researcher is looking beyond the mathematical structure to the concrete application of cryptography in end devices. As soon as the algorithm is practically executed on a device, the hacker can of course attack more than just the mathematics: disrupt the computing process or read a side channel in order to gain information from it. We need to protect against all of that."
 


(Maria Eichlseder talked with Spirit of Austria 04/22)

© Lunghammer. TU Graz

Nerve Stimulation with the Help of Implantable Mini Solar Cells

April 07th, 2022


An international research team with Theresa Rienmüller from our Insitute of Health Care Engineering has successfully developed and tested a concept in which nerves are stimulated with light pulses. The method provides considerable advantages for medicine and opens up a wide range of possible applications.

The technology enables completely new types of implants that can be used to stimulate nerve cells and was developed in a joint effort by researchers from Graz University of Technology (TU Graz), the Medical University of Graz (Med Uni Graz), the University of Zagreb and the Czech CEITEC. The basis of this technology involves colour pigments from the food industry, such as those used in organic solar cells. The pigments are vapour-deposited to form a layer only a few nanometres thick, where they convert light into electrical charge – just as in organic solar cells. Nerve cells that adhere to the film (note: they are first pipetted onto the film and and grow there) react to this charge and in turn fire electrical impulses with which they stimulate other nerve cells.

The researchers have now been able to demonstrate this process for the first time in cell biological experiments. Cultivated nerve cells that were grown directly on the film were stimulated by several light flashes each lasting a few milliseconds at a wavelength of 660 nanometres (red light) and reacted as hoped. They generated so-called action potentials, which are essential for communication between nerve cells. The researchers have published the results of their electrophysiological measurements and computer simulations in the scientific journal Advanced Materials Technologies.

© Christine Rechling / www.fotocrafie.at

Kerstin Lenk: INGE St. Forschungspreis 2021 Award

March 29th, 2022


After two years of virtual awarding, the INGE St. Research Award Ceremony took place again in presence and in a festive setting on March 28, 2022. The work awarded by the prize jury in the categories "Diploma Master Thesis" and "Publication" was presented by the 6 prize winners in highly informative short lectures in the ballroom of the Meerscheinschlössel Graz. Important criteria for the award are scientific quality, innovation and interdisciplinarity! Kerstin Lenk from our Institute of Neural Engineering was awarded in the category "Publications". Congratulations!

Peter Pötzi is a Knapp AG talent!

March 22nd, 2022

Knapp AG, Styrian intralogistics specialist headquartered in Hart near Graz, is one of the largest IT employers in the country. For the 10th time, IT talents worked on a tricky programming task from logistics practice. This time, the participants had the coding task to implement the algorithm for the processing of daily work, storage and order processing for an automated picking system. Around 90 pupils and students from all over Austria came to this year's programming competition of the company. TU Graz, specifically our Master student in Computer Science Peter Pötzi, ended up in third place. Congratulations!

IEEE Virtual Reality: Best Paper Award

March 18th, 2022

The paper "Video See-Through Mixed Reality with Focus Cues" won the Best Paper Award (top category - full journal papers) at the IEEE Virtual Reality. This is the flagship conference in this field with over 1000 participants. Authors of the winning paper are our scientists Christoph Ebner, Shohel Mori, Peter Mohr, Dieter Schmalstieg and Denis Kalkofen, and two colleagues from Stanford University Yifan Peng and Gordon Wetzstein.

In this context, we may also congratulate Dieter Schmalstieg, who was accepted into the Inaugural Class of the Virtual Reality Acadamy of IEEE VGTC (Visualization and Graphics Technical Committee).
We also have to announce that Denis Kakofen is leaving us for Flinders University, Adelaide. Denis, you have done a great job with us. We wish you continued success on your way!

4 out of 10 – most cited researches!

March 17th, 2022

The science platform research.com has published new figures on the best-cited and most-cited researchers. In computer science, Horst Bischof, Dieter Schmalstieg, Wolfgang Maass and Thomas Pock are four of the ten most cited Austrian researchers from Graz University of Technology. We are proud!

Russia is cut off - at least online

March 13th, 2022


Within days, the largest social networks in Russia lost their raison d'être, and the digital regulars' tables emptied out. On the one hand, at the behest of the tech companies themselves, on the other, Russian authorities are visibly tightening digital censorship in the country. Russia is not only targeting popular services and digital news sites, it is also increasingly concerned with infrastructure. "Technical access can be perfectly isolated. It's not technically difficult to seal off information," says Reinhard Posch from our IAIK, and Chief Information Officer of the government. In Austria ministries also have their own networks that are not accessible from the outside for security reasons. However, it should be borne in mind that, as a result of a cut-off, "only their own services can be offered. In Russia, this could be particularly serious. After all, civil society there has long since become accustomed to "Western" online services. Posch: "People will quickly become frustrated if established services no longer work." And, last but not least, the networked Tesla car can no longer be unlocked and locked.

(Reinhard Posch talked with Kleine Zeitung, published 12.03.22)
 

© Lunghammer, TU Graz

“Whoever says digital must also say security”

March 2nd, 2022


"Even if cyber attacks are on the rise: Things are not as bad as some think. The world is still under the control of the good guys," says Stefan Mangard, whose Institute for Applied Information Processing and Comunications is partly responsible for Graz's excellent reputation as an international cybersecurity stronghold. The successes in uncovering hardware vulnerabilities at Intel & Co. - "Spectre" and "Meltdown" - earned the institute an enormous international reputation. Joint research projects with big names like Amazon, Google, Intel, NXP, Infineon & Co are on the agenda for researchers at the institute. In addition, a center for research, training, testing and certification in the field of IT security is currently being built on the Inffeld grounds as part of the "Cybersecurity Campus Graz" - in cooperation with the leading testing and certification company SGS. The institute is currently enjoying a research success in the USA. The U.S. authority NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) announced a worldwide competition for the development of a new standard for so-called "Light weight Cryptography", which is finding its way into more and more applications, such as small sensors, and is capable of encrypting data with as little computing effort as possible. "Two out of ten finalists in this competition are from our institute, giving us a chance to define a global standard," Mangard explains. A cryptographic method with participation from Graz is also on the short list in a second NIST competition - at the center of it: quantum computers. "Since these could quickly decrypt current systems thanks to their extreme performance, we will need entirely new cryptographic standards in the future to make IT systems fit for the quantum age," says Mangard, whose institute also works closely with local industry. An information brochure has just been designed in cooperation with IV Steiermark, which contains recommendations for action both for prevention and for what to do if the worst should happen. "Industry 4.0 in particular is vulnerable to new threat scenarios. More and more machines or individual components are communicating not only with each other, but also with the manufacturing companies for updates or predictive maintenance," said Mangard, whose research focus "Secure Systems" deals with this topic. "An important area of research is efficiently isolating system components to ensure that if individual parts are compromised, the rest of the system remains protected." Home offices and the multitude of devices in the modern workplace also make a secure computer architecture necessary. "You can think of it this way: In the past, a company was a self-contained unit, a castle, as it were - and today we have a multitude of decentralized islands. A castle is naturally easier to protect than many small units."

(Stefan Mangard talked with Spirit of Austria 01/22)
 

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