Red Hat Research Quarterly

Open source researchers in security and education win 2021 innovation awards

Red Hat Research Quarterly

Open source researchers in security and education win 2021 innovation awards

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Vashek Matyas

Vashek Matyáš

Vashek Matyáš is a professor with the Centre for Research on Cryptography and Security at the Faculty of Informatics, Masaryk University. 

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Masaryk University (MU) presented the 2021 MUNI Innovation Awards at its Business Research Forum on November 11, 2021. These awards recognize individual students and staff whose research has been successfully implemented in practice, helped to improve products or services, or in some other way enhanced the social relevance of MU research. Awards went to seventeen individuals or teams from ten faculties, including three to Faculty of Informatics researchers who have worked with Red Hat Research on advanced open source projects.

Petr Švenda received an Innovation Award for his design of new methodologies for security system analyses and reviews of cryptographic implementations. These methodologies enable verification of the security of newly developed devices and find bugs, allowing for their timely correction against misuse. In 2017, his group found and helped eliminate the most serious cryptographic vulnerabilities in many European countries’ current electronic ID cards and in the security solutions of major IT vendors. The results of this research led to a change in global certification procedures in the field of digital signature key generation. Petr presented his recent work on certification at a Red Hat Research Day in March 2021 (“Mining issued common criteria and FIPS 140-2 certificates – more transparency for developers, vulnerability researchers, and society”).

Radek Pelánek won the MUNI Innovation Award for research results using machine learning and data-processing methods that provided the basis for the design of the learning environment implemented on the website Radek leads the university’s Adaptive Learning Research Group, which focuses on using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analysis in the development of learning environments. Umíme is a startup founded by Petr Jarušek, a former PhD student in the group. Umíme started with orthography and grammar and now covers many other subjects, including mathematics, English, programming, and geography. The site is used by more than ten percent of Czech schools. Red Hat currently supports his research with Tomáš Effenberger, a PhD student focusing on introductory programming and computational thinking. Their research concerns the design of exercises (e.g., microworlds for block-based programming) and analysis of data from programming exercises. 

Milan Brož, Mikuláš Patočka, and Vashek Matyáš were awarded for their work on Full Disk Encryption (FDE), which has become a widely used security feature. Until now, FDE rarely provided cryptographic data integrity protection; the team introduced an algorithm-agnostic solution that provides both data integrity and confidentiality protection at the disk-sector layer. Their open source solution is intended for drives without any special hardware extensions and is based on per-sector metadata fields implemented in software. Their implementation has been included in the Linux kernel since version 4.12. Milan did this work as a Red Hatter in the Brno office and as a PhD student of Vashek Matyáš, with Red Hatter Mikuláš Patočka contributing mainly to efficient implementation of the solution. Work on FDE continues through the cooperation of Red Hat Czech and MU.


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