Ruhr University » SecHuman

PhD's

In a inter- and transdisziplinary context, 13 PhD's have the possibility to conduct research in the NRW financed Fortschrittskolleg SecHuman "Security for people in cyberspace". The following students currently conduct their PhD studies:

Benedikt Auerbach: Post-Snowden Cryptography

As revealed during the Snowden revelations, the NSA managed to include backdoors in widespread cryptographic protocols by using its influence on cryptographic standardization processes. This enabled the surveillance of communication believed to be securely encrypted. Using methods from provable security, the research project aims to investigate the question, whether it is possible to construct cryptographic protocols, which provably do not admit the inclusion of backdoors. A first goal is the development of an appropriate security model describing the setting. Afterwards the construction of cryptographic protocols, whose security in this model can be based on commonly used cryptographic assumptions by security reductions, will be approached.



  • Affiliation: Faculty of Mathematics, Foundations of Crypotography
  • Email: Benedikt.Auerbach [at] rub.de
  • Website


Benedikt Bönninghoff: Machine-learning based authorship analysis

Today, many people are using social media platforms to communicate with each other. High damage potentially originates from using a false identity for criminal purposes. Forensic linguistics is the discipline of analyzing the authorship of documents as well as the author's biographical background. We further can combine linguistic features with machine learning tools to automate this process. However, the forensic authorship analysis for social media is a challenging task since the messages are relatively short and linguistic disguise or imitation strategies may be applied to hide the own authorship. Hence, the aim of this research project is to combine linguistic knowledge with machine-learning techniques for forensic authorship analysis on social media platforms and investigate the degree of reliability of the classification results in data sets of inherent high variability.


  • Affiliation: Institute of Communication Accoustics, Cognitive Signal Processing
  • Email: Benedikt.Boenninghoff [at] rub.de
  • Website


Florian Farke:










  • Affiliation: Department of Electrical Engeneering and Information Technology, Mobile Security
  • Email: Florian.Farke [at] rub.de
  • Website


Marc Fyrbiak: Hardware Reverse Engineering

In the course of globalization, integrated circuits are now planned, implemented and manufactured with different suppliers at different locations. This increases the risk of violations of expensive intellectual property and insertion of hardware Trojans. A necessary prerequisite for these attacks is sufficient understanding of a hardware design which can be obtained by reverse engineering. Reverse engineering is also necessary in other scenarios, e.g., to detect hardware Trojans. In this research the reverse engineering of hardware designs is to be examined, both from technical side and the human factor. In particular, automation of different tasks during reverse engineering should be considered. Additionally, the technical possibilities should be created in order to examine the human factor.



  • Affiliation: Department of Electrical Engeneering and Information Technology, Embedded Security
  • Email: Marc.Fyrbiak [at] rub.de
  • Website


Alexander Helm










  • Affiliation: Faculty of Mathematics, Cryptology and IT-Security
  • Email: Alexander.Helm [at] rub.de
  • Website


Steffen Hessler: Analysis of linguistic techniques for stylization, imitation and disguise with the help of intelligent algorithms

People are communicating via different internet platforms without having secured metadata of their communication partners. With the use of specific language, people are disguising their true identities. My research target is to develop methods to research and detect those linguistic imitation strategies. Just like the stylization in comedy and cabaret programs, imitation uses atypically and over stylized linguistic features, which do not cover linguistic registers of those imitated people. Developing machine-learning based algorithms should help to automatize the process of the systematization of linguistic techniques for imitation and disguise in order to concentrate my linguistic analysis on doubtful cases.




  • Affiliation: Insitute of Germanistics, German Linguistics, Ruhr-Universität Bochum
  • Email: Steffen.Hessler [at] rub.de
  • Website


Laura Kocksch: What data tell about us

Laura approaches the topic of sensor technologies and data from an anthropological perspective. In the two technology fields, smarthome and self-tracking, she traces sensor data with ethnographic methods. She looks at practices of collecting, concentrating, enriching, selecting and securing this data. Data and its mass storing and correlating with other data (“Big Data”) in this perspective is not a solely technical fact, but rather is made, disassembled and reassembled and thus produces a specific knowledge about humans and their interaction with technologies (thus a close cooperation with technologists is needed). Laura is interested in questions and problems that practitioners believe can be answered through Big Data, as well as the hopes and metaphors that relate to Big Data and the ontological status of futures that it predicts.


  • Affiliation: Social Science, Cultural Psychology and Anthropology of Knowledge, Ruhr-Universität Bochum
  • Email: Laura.Kocksch [at] rub.de
  • Website


Stephan Koloßa: The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age”

The legal concept of “privacy” is not a phenomenon of the most recent years. A right to privacy has been established already more than sixty years ago, in international law foremost in the European Charter on Human Rights (ECHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). However, the latest technology used by governmental as well as private entities and even single individuals in times of “Big Data” and the “Internet of Things” raise more questions regarding the current scope of the legal protection of privacy than ever. The PhD analyzes the existing legal frameworks and scrutinizes the right to privacy in the digital age under international law.




  • Affiliation: Faculty of Law, Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict, Ruhr-Universität Bochum
  • Email: Stephan.Kolossa [at] rub.de
  • Website


Martina Nies (member of the management board): Cognitive Knowledge Integration in transdisciplinary research processes within the field of IT-Security

Increasingly, Scientists have to work together with partners from different disciplines and practice partners. Different knowledge pools, methodologies and experiences need to be connected in order to establish a common ground from where new knowledge can emerge. This process of cognitive knowledge integration is not an automatic mechanism, but needs procedural and content-related support. On the one hand this Phd-project supports the Phd-tandems of SecHuman in their process of cognitive knowledge integration. On the other hand, it uses empirical-analytical methods to generate knowledge about such processes. The aim is to find useful methods which encourage cognitive knowledge integration in transdisciplinary research teams. In addition factors on a cognitive level will be analysed, that foster or inhibit knowledge integration. Finally a training and support concept for these processes will be developed.

  • Affiliation: Applied Social Studies, Environmental Psychology, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Dortmund
  • Email: Martina.Nies [at] rub.de
  • Website


Jan Rensinghoff

Die weltweit wertvollste Ressource ist nicht länger Öl, sondern Daten", titelte unlängst der Economist und beschrieb damit sehr treffend die aktuellen Entwicklungen im Informationszeitalter. Spätestens seit der NSA-Affäre ist den Menschen klar geworden, wie essentiell wichtig der vertrauliche Umgang mit personenbezogenen Daten ist und welch enormes Gefährdungspotenzial hinter einem Missbrauch dieser Daten steckt. Datenschutz und Informationsfreiheit stehen in einem Spannungsverhältnis, dessen Austarierung eine große Herausforderung darstellt. Das neue "Recht auf Vergessenwerden" nach der EU-DSGVO versucht, genau dafür eine Grundlage zu schaffen. Im Fokus der Arbeit steht, zu untersuchen, wie dieser Ausgleich widerstreitender Interessen bestmöglich zu bewerkstelligen ist und welche Regulierungsansätze dafür sinnvoll und zielführend sind.



  • Affiliation: Jornalism, Media Law, Technical University Dortmund
  • Email: Jan.Rensinghoff [at] rub.de
  • Website


Mary Shnayien: „In through the back door…“ Discourse on Security and Privacy in the post-Snowden Era

The Snowden revelations as well as recent cybercrime incidents like WannaCry mark a shift in the media coverage of privacy, surveillance and security. Today, privacy and security can be conceptualized as polar oppositions, in between which the back door is situated – a system with a back door is neither safe nor does it grant privacy in the sense of an enclosed space for solitude. In my dissertation I do a discourse analysis deeply rooted in media and gender studies of different media texts concerned with privacy and security, while mainly focusing on forms of knowledge production and discoursive making of privacy, security and possible modes of critique.


  • Affiliation: Spaces of Anthropological Knowledge, Media and Anthropological Knowledge, Ruhr-Universität Bochum
  • Email: marie-luise.shnayien@ruhr-uni-bochum.de
  • Website


Christine Utz










  • Affiliation: Department of Electrical Engeneering and Information Technology, Systems Security
  • Email: Christine.Utz [at] rub.de
  • Website


Carina Wiesen: Learning processes in IT-Security

The aim is to conceptualise netlist-level reverse-engineering as a process of human problem solving for the first time. To this end, problem solving procedures (e.g. strategies or heuristics) that are employed during reverse-engineering in a practical setting will be examined. Research on the development of expertise shows that both, domain-specific knowledge and deliberate practice are needed in order to proficiently solve demanding problems in a given field. Hence, differences between persons on varying levels of expertise (e.g. expert vs. novice) as well as the development of reverse-engineering skills within subjects will be taken into view as well.




  • Affiliation: Institute of Education, Educational Psychology Research Group, Ruhr-Universität Bochum
  • Email: Carina.Wiesen [at] rub.de
  • Website