Language-Based Security (Affiliated Research Group) (Former Research Group)

Vision and Research Strategy

Proofs of security protocols are known to be error-prone and difficult for humans to make. Hence, work towards the automation of security proofs started soon after the first protocols were developed. Despite the significant progress in protocol analysis and the number of verification tools released, the verification of modern cryptographic applications is still an open issue. First, modern protocols rely on complex cryptographic primitives and achieve sophisticated security properties that are mostly not supported by existing tools and, in some cases, not even formalized. Second, current automated analysis techniques do not provide end-to-end security guarantees, since they tend to focus on the logic of the protocol and to abstract away from its implementation. Hence there exists a gap between verified models and executable code.

The language-based security group develops formal methods for the verification of cryptographic applications and for the design of secure distributed systems. The group studies formal definitions of security properties and develops techniques for their automated verification. In order to provide end-to-end security guarantees, the group develops tools for the verification of both protocols and executable code. In addition, the group develops cryptographic protocols for strengthening the security of modern applications, such as peer-to-peer file sharing applications and social networks. The research interests of the language-based security group include formal methods, cryptographic protocols, program analysis, semantics of programming languages, type theory, concurrency theory, and system security.

Composition of Group

The Language-based Security Group was founded in August 2008. In June 2009, Matteo Maffei was awarded the Emmy Noether fellowship by the German Research Foundation and consequently left the cluster.

Since July 2009, Matteo Maffei has been head of the language-based security group at Saarland University, which is funded by the Emmy Noether program and affiliated to the cluster of excellence. The group currently includes two Ph.D. students, Kim Pecina and Fabienne Eigner.

Research Topics and Achievements

Projects and Collaborations

Prizes and Awards


Univ. Prof. Dr. Matteo Maffei

In the years 2008-2013, I led the Language-Based Security group, which was affiliated with the Cluster of Excellence "Multimodal Computing and Interaction" and, since 2009, supported by the Emmy Noether fellowship by the German Research Foundation. In 2013 I was appointed W2 professor at Saarland University within the Competence Center on IT-Security, Privacy, and Accountability, where I am currently heading the Secure and Privacy-preserving Systems GroupIn 2017, I joined TU Vienna as full professor and head of the Security and Privacy group.

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