Analysis of Security Primitives in Public Clouds

That’s the title of the winning thesis at Swisscom Innovation Award 2015, sponsored by Swisscom, ICTswitzerland and the Swiss Informatics Society! And Zongren Liu, 25 year old graduate from EPFL, is the guy who wrote and presented it. We congratulate Zongren for his impressive work! He is now 10’000 Swiss Francs richer than 24 hours ago 🙂

For those who only want a short review of yesterday’s award ceremony, I have one sentence for you: an expert audience and jury coming from all over Switzerland, a finalist who sits in Australia during his pitch at the award ceremony,  a non-jury-member who spontaneously presented the closing speech to the winner and lots of technical presentations, discussions, questions and answers – that was the Swisscom Innovation Award 2015 (or #sip2015 🙂 ).

And for those who are still reading, let’s review yesterday evening step-by-step:

Last week we announced all three finalists and found out some serious and funny facts about the three guys. And yesterday their big day was there. After an epic video clip about future technologies and ideas, our moderator Arijana opened the 9th Swisscom Innovation Award in her sympathetic way.  Then the jury introduced themselves shortly. The expert panel was made up of

  • David Watrin, Head of Security & Intelligence at Swisscom
  • Christian Fischer, Patent Counsel at Swisscom
  • Adrienne Corboud, Vice President of Innovation and Technology Transfer at EPFL
  • Simon Schubiger, Professor for Computer Graphics at FHNW
  • Andreas Kaelin, Chief Executive Officer of ICTswitzerland
  • Thilo Rockmann, Chairman of LzLabs

After this introduction, Arijana passed to Tulu who gave us some interesting facts and figures about the Swisscom Innovation Award. We had 33 submissions from students of 17 different Swiss universities.

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Blaise Carron, 26 year old student at the University of Geneva, was the first of the three finalists who presented his exciting work. The aim of his project is to augment an Internet of Things framework with Mobile Crowdsensing capabilities by combining data from static wireless sensor network which is available in a smart office area.

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Right after, Zongren Liu went on stage as the second finalist. He explained us, that Proofs of Retrievability (POR) are cryptographic proofs that enable a cloud provider to prove that a user can retrieve his file in its entirety. Outsourced Proofs of Retrievability (OPOR) improves the idea by allowing users task an external auditor to perform and verify POR with the cloud provider. The prototype evaluation shows in realistic cloud settings, OPOR minimizes user effort and overhead on the auditor to ensure user’s cloud data security and privacy.

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Finally we had the challenge to get to our third finalist by an online call with our Vidia Tool.  Jérôme Fragnière, 24, from University of Applied Science Fribourg, is in Australia at the moment. As we had early evening in Berne, he was keeping his eyes on in early morning in Perth. His thesis states, that the current desire of network operators is to virtualize the CPE functions and move them in the data center. Two new concepts, SDN and NFV, make it possible to introduce this kind of architecture with greater ease. By deploying these technologies, operators will enjoy many benefits, like scalability and cost reductions, while customers will see new services deployed more quickly.

Every time Jérôme made a short speaking break, my heart stopped beating. But I am really happy to say that our tool was functioning very well and without any connection problems. For asking questions which Jérôme should be able to hear, the jury had to go on stage. But that maybe was a welcome action after sitting for a while 🙂

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As soon as we heard the last pitch, the jury went out of the room to discuss their evaluation at our Brain Gym. In the meanwhile, Oliver Stein, Head of Innovation Culture at Swisscom gave us some nice insights about Human Centered Design and how Design-Thinking is increasing a company’s outcome of innovations.

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Finally the moment we all waited for has arrived. Tulu handed over the envelope with the finalist’s ranks to Arijana. Blaise, Zongren and I (carrying the notebook with Jérômes face on it, I was almost as nervous as he in Australia) had to go on stage.

Then Arijana announced the winners:

1st – Zongren Liu, EPFL (Prize: Check of 10’000 Swiss Francs)

2nd – Jérôme Fragnière, HEIA-FR (Prize: 1 year free basic charge of „Swisscom xtra liberty plus m“)

3rd – Blaise Carron, Université de Genève (Prize: Voucher for Swisscom Shops, 400 Swiss Francs)

All three winners also got certificates for your outstanding work, signed by Urs Schaeppi, CEO at Swisscom, Andreas Kaelin, CEO at ICTswitzerland and Jürg Gutknecht, President of the Swiss Informatics Society.

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At the end of the ceremony, Bernhard Hämmerli, ex-CEO of the Swiss Informatics Society, spontaneously spoke a few words about Switzerland as one of the leaders in Research & Development and the importance of innovation technology, as well as the support of innovative talents. He honored the work of the three finalists and pointed out how essential it is for students, participating at such awards.

At the final apéro I was asking Zongren what he would spend the 10k on and he told me he would use the money to further develop and improve his idea and if there is something left, he would probably go travelling then 🙂 Sounds great!

We congratulate the three of you for your outstanding ideas/projects/work and wish you all the best for your bright future! It was a pleasure to meeting you guys and listening to your visions.

Furthermore, we thank the jury for their great effort to evaluate all submitted abstracts and the finalist’s projects as well as that they invest their time to appreciate innovative ideas and to support young talents.

We thank ICTswitzerland and the Swiss Informatics Society for being great and valuable partners, not only at the Swisscom Innovation Award. Thanks a lot for sponsoring the 2nd and 3rd prizes.

If you are student at a Swiss university and thinking about participating with your project next year, please check out our website. Good luck!

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Apéro Time after a great Innovation Award!