This year's CAST IT Security Award was presented for the 23rd time. The award ceremony for outstanding students in the categories "Master's Theses" and "Bachelor's Theses" took place on October 10, 2022 in Darmstadt and brought together outstanding students.
Niklas Niere took second place in the "Master's Theses" category with his thesis on "Analyzing and Circumventing ESNI-/ECH-based Censorship". He wrote his thesis at the Ruhr University Bochum in collaboration with the University of Paderborn, where he is now working as a PhD student. Marten Schmidt achieved third place with his topic "Analyzing the QUIC Ecosystem With the QUIC-Scanner". Third place for the best Bachelor's thesis was achieved by Philipp Breuch, who researched "Web Key Directory and other key exchange methods for OpenPGP".
Prof. Dr. Juraj Somorovsky, who supervised the theses, was very pleased with the outstanding performance of his students. "Philipp analyzed a novel specification for OpenPGP key exchange in his bachelor thesis. OpenPGP is used for email encryption, for example. In his analyses, Philipp discovered serious security problems in both the specification and the reference implementation. In his master's thesis, Marten dealt with the automated scanning of the cryptographic QUIC protocol, which is increasingly being used to protect websites. For example, he found many servers that could potentially be misused for so-called Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. In general, both papers contain strong research components, which were elaborated and presented in an outstanding manner. This motivated me to nominate them," explained Prof. Dr. Juraj Somorovsky.
Prior to the award ceremony, all submissions were reviewed by experts from CAST e.V. (Competence Center for Applied Security Technology) and assessed according to their quality. Based on these evaluations, a total of six authors were nominated for the finalist workshop, which took place for the first time at the IT-SA in Nuremberg.
The finalists were invited to present their results to a jury consisting of representatives from industry and research in order to demonstrate the innovative strength of their work. Marten Schmidt commented on the event as follows: "Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the award ceremony due to illness. Nevertheless, I was delighted to receive the award and definitely plan to take part in one of the CAST Forum workshops next year, to which all award winners have been invited." Niklas Niere was also delighted with the event: "I was very pleased to be nominated for the CAST Award. It was an enriching experience to present my research results and to see the results of the other students. I hope that I will also be able to nominate students for such an award in the future."
All finalists will have the opportunity to attend the CAST workshops in 2024 free of charge. Prize money of €3,600 was also awarded as part of the CAST sponsorship award.
CAST e.V. is a renowned institution that offers comprehensive services in the field of IT security for modern information technologies and is a reliable point of contact for IT security issues. Its competence network contributes to imparting knowledge about IT security technologies at various levels of education - from supporting study focuses in IT security at TU Darmstadt to in-service training and further education. CAST e.V. supports users with information events, individual consulting, workshops and training in the selection and implementation of customized security technologies. An outstanding initiative of CAST e.V. is the CAST IT Security Award, which recognizes innovative ideas, exciting research results and new perspectives and approaches that address current and relevant IT security topics.