Scientific Excellence

Information technology has become a substantial part of our everyday life. This rapid progress opens up many opportunities, but also holds dangers. They range from Internet fraud to large-scale attacks on business and governments, in which cybercriminals spy on, sabotage and steal sensitive data. Creating long-term security against criminal attackers - that is the goal of the HGI, one of the Research Departments of the Ruhr University Bochum.

At the HGI, more than 200 scientists and their research groups from the fields of electrical engineering and information technology, mathematics and computer science as well as the humanities and social sciences conduct research. In this unique interdisciplinary environment, almost all aspects of IT security are covered.

As one of the most renowned and largest institutions for basic research in IT security, the HGI offers outstanding opportunities for young scientists to start their career within a structured doctoral program. It is home to the NRW research colleges NERD and SecHuman as well as the Cluster of Excellence CASA.

In the Graduates Schools of the HGI and the Cluster of Excellence, doctoral students can benefit from numerous seminars, training courses and other activities that can deepen their academic and personal development.


Cluster of Excellence CASA - Cyber Security in the Age of Large-Scale Adversaries

The most significant cyberattacks of our time are always conducted by powerful, large-scale enemies. In the Cluster of Excellence CASA, top-class scientists are researching effective and sustainable measures against these attacks. They pursue an interdisciplinary approach in which not only technical issues but also psychological factors of IT security are analyzed.

This constellation is unique in Europe. The cluster was launched in 2019 and is funded by the DFG with approximately 30 million euros for an initial period of 7 years.

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0 Professorial chairs
0 Doctoral students
and postdocs
0 Student researchers
0 Publications from the most prominent conferences
0 Awards of external funding (public and private funding agencies)

Publications and Awards

More than 200 publications at the most important IT security and cryptography conferences and 16 Best Paper Awards in recent years make the HGI one of the world's most successful research institutions and the European leader in the field.

This excellence is also reflected in a large number of renowned scientific awards and funding programs with which our research has been recognized. For example, the HGI is the only research institution in the field of IT security that has received three European Research Council (ERC) grants.


Research areas

Cryptography of the Future

Cryptography is the basis of modern security systems. It provides the basic building blocks that enable secure surfing on the internet, email encryption and crypto-currencies. The HGI has one of the world's leading teams in the field of modern cryptography, dealing for example with highly efficient cyphers for the Internet of Things or post-quantum encryption.

Prof. Dr. Nils Fleischhacker Prof. Dr. Jörg Schwenk
Prof. Dr. Eike Kiltz Prof. Dr. Christof Paar
Prof. Dr. Gregor Leander    
Prof. Dr. Alexander May    
Secure Systems

Researchers at HGI develop reliable security solutions to detect and prevent attacks on IT systems.

The topics range from secure web applications to the detection of software vulnerabilities and new security protocols. Machine Learning (ML) plays an increasingly important role in this context. We are researching, for example, the robustness of ML algorithms and attacks against such systems.

Prof. Dr. Thorsten Holz Prof. Dr. Jörg Schwenk
Embedded Security

An essential aspect of IT security concerns the embedding of computer systems in their physical environment.

The internationally renowned team at HGI is investigating, for example, how hardware manipulation or the reading of cryptographic keys from smart cards and smartphones can be prevented. It is also concerned with securing new types of applications, for example in electromobility or self-driving cars.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Tim Güneysu Prof. Dr. Christof Paar
Prof. Dr. Gregor Leander Prof. Dr. Amir Moradi Prof. Dr. Amir Moradi
Security and Usability

Human (mis)behaviour is a key consideration in protecting IT systems. This has, however, received surprisingly little attention in research to date.

Working in an environment that cultivates interdisciplinary approaches, researchers at the HGI are charting and developing a pioneering scientific focus on the secure interplay between human beings and technology. Among other aspects, they are working on new password concepts, the secureness of CAPTCHAs and recognizing "fakes" amongst online reviews.

Prof. Dr. Markus Dürmuth Prof. Dr. Martina Angela Sasse
Prof. Dr. Thorsten Holz Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dorothea Kolossa
Prof. Dr. Nikol Rum­mel    
Interdisciplinary Aspects of IT Security

It is becoming increasingly clear that IT security raises a significant number of legal, linguistic, psychological, sociological and economic questions.

That is why at the HGI, researchers from technological and engineering fields and mathematics collaborate closely with researchers from law, linguistics, psychology, educational sciences and philosophy, as well as sociology and economics. These teams conduct joint research, for example, on societal changes in the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations and hackers' learning habits.

Prof. Dr. Malte Elson Prof. Dr. Annette Kluge
Prof. Dr. Marcel Hunecke Prof. Dr. Nikol Rummel
Dr. Kerstin Kucharczik Prof. Dr. Estrid Sørensen
Prof. Dr. Karin Pittner Prof. Dr. Pierre Thielbörger
Prof. Dr. Anna Tuschling

Prof. Dr. Brigitte Werners


Jun.-Prof. Sebastian Weydner-Volkmann

Some of our most significant honours include:

  • ERC Advanced Grant, 2015
  • ERC Starting Grant, 2014
  • ERC Consolidator Grant, 2013
  • DFG Heisenberg Professor, 2015
  • DFG Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize, 2011
  • DFG Emmy Noether-Program, 2015
  • DFG Emmy Noether-Program, 2010
  • Sofja Kovalevskaja Award, 2010
  • IACR Fellowship, 2016


The challenges we currently face in IT security are multifaceted, which is why they must be met with an approach that is accordingly comprehensive and integrative. To that end, the HGI brings together a broad and diverse group of researchers from a variety of disciplines. Currently, 26 professors lead research groups with members representing electrical engineering and information technology, mathematics as well as the humanities and social sciences. They conduct investigations into nearly all aspects related to IT security, from basic research in cryptography and Internet and hardware security to user behaviour and legal frameworks.


To support interdisciplinary collaboration sustainably, we organize regularly scheduled events and meetings such as the lecture series "IT Security for the Humanities and Social Sciences" and "Principles and Research Methods in the Humanities and Social Sciences for IT Security". The institute's graduate schools also fully embrace an interdisciplinary approach. Furthermore, the interdisciplinary Identity Protection on the Internet research group (a-i3, Identitätsschutz im Internet e.V.), which was established at the Ruhr-University Bochum in 2005, organizes an extremely well regarded annual symposium in conjunction with the Federal Office for Information Security.


The HGI played a leading role in the conception of the Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS). The CAIS was founded in 2017 in Bochum to engage in interdisciplinary research on social, economic, legal, political and technological aspects related to digitalization. To this end, the Center organizes events and working groups and invites experts from academia and industry to spend up to six months as fellows at the institute, where they can carry out work on their projects related to internet research.


SecHuman (Brave New World: Security for Humans in Cyberspace) is a doctoral program at the HGI in cooperation with the TU Dortmund and the FH Dortmund, which investigates questions of IT security with social relevance.

Supporting Early Stage Researchers

The training of excellent junior staff is a particular focus of the HGI. Since its foundation, we have guided about 90 young scientists to their doctorates.

Our doctoral students are integrated into top-level research at an early stage and gain access to a leading international research network. For the development of key qualifications, they have access to the RUB Research School Plus.

An essential element in our promotion of young researchers are the three Research Training Groups, which are characterized by their close ties to top-level research and practice:


SecHuman (Security for People in Cyberspace) is a graduate research training program, organized jointly with the TU Dortmund and the University for Applied Sciences Dortmund. SecHuman focuses on six key topics in IT security: security and privacy post-Snowden; the private sphere as a human right; strategies for speech impersonation and disguise; the question what social networks and sensors reveal about us; learning processes in IT security; and digital forgetting. Each of these topics is investigated by a team of two doctoral researchers, one from the humanities and one from a technical field. These tandems are advised by industry partners to ensure that the team's work applies to society more broadly.



NERD (Human-Centered Systems Security) is a doctoral training network across several universities in North Rhine-Westphalia that places the human being at the centre of thinking about vulnerabilities in IT systems. The primary research question is how one can design security mechanisms at all levels of the value chain – from the software developer through to the end-user – such that these mechanisms are useable in practice by all of the relevant groups. The pioneering tandem model for doctoral studies with advising from industry partners is also an integral aspect of this training network.



Whitepaper: 5G – for sure

Everyone is talking about 5G - in our whitepaper you can find out what the "fifth generation" of the mobile phone standard means for IT security and what challenges it poses.

The whitepaper is available for download here.