IEEE Fellowship for security research Marten van Dijk

Marten van Dijk (CWI) has received the IEEE Fellowship for his contributions to security, especially secure processor design and encrypted computation. His security work is used worldwide: both in applications like Intel chips and in education.

Publication date: 17-01-2022

As of January 2022 Marten van Dijk (CWI) has received the IEEE Fellowship from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE. He receives this title for his contributions to security - especially secure processor design and encrypted computation. His security work is used worldwide, both in applications like in Intel chips, and in education. Van Dijk says he is honoured with the IEEE Fellowship and grateful for being able to contribute to the education of new generations of engineers and researchers.

Van Dijk received the IEEE Fellowship, among others, for his work on the realization of Physical Unclonable Functions (PUFs), which he did with Srini Devadas from MIT. PUFs use unique properties of hardware, like variations in capacitance in individual chips, stemming from the manufacturing process. With these PUFs, each chip has a unique kind of fingerprint, which can be used for authentication of devices. They are attractive for many very secure applications, since their volatile keys are only known to the chip itself and only exist when the chip is powered up. For their research  Van Dijk and Devadas’ team received the ‘IEEE and ACM A. Richard Newton Technical Impact Award in Electronic Design Automation’ in 2015.

Devadas’ research group, including Van Dijk at the time, also made Aegis the first single-chip secure processor that uses PUFs for key generation. Aegis includes architectural mechanisms that guarantee the privacy of a process even when the operating system and external memory (disk) are malicious. Several worldwide industries built their techniques on this research, like Intel. Intel's 2015 Skylake commercial processor with Software Guard Extensions (SGX) closely follows the security model pioneered by the Aegis processor. Also, the paper that introduced Aegis has been used in courses around the world as reading material for students.

In 2015 the same team at MIT CSAIL built processor chip ‘Ascend’ that provably protects against memory traffic analysis attack Ascend uses a new, simple and efficient Oblivious Random Access Memory (ORAM) design called Path ORAM, suitable for efficient hardware implementation. It can be used to strengthen SGX's security by obfuscating traffic patterns from memory to disk. This received an ACM CCS Best Paper Award in 2013.

Van Dijk’s best-cited article, however, describes fully homomorphic encryption, which is used to explain how computation can be done under encryption  to first-year students in mathematics. Marten van Dijk: “I am glad to be able to contribute to the scientific community in this way”.

Van Dijk
As head of CWI’s Computer Security group Marten van Dijk is a very experienced computer security researcher, both in academia and industry. Early in his career he became the lead inventor of the error correcting codes used in Blu-ray discs at Philips Research Lab. At RSA Labs in the USA, he co-designed the awarded IRIS authenticated file system. His research on fully homomorphic encryption over integers was nominated for Best Paper Award at Eurocrypt 2010.

Van Dijk has also published on hardware security and cyber physical system security. He worked with Intel-SGX, studied the security of so-called cloud FPGAs, adversarial machine learning and differential privacy for federated learning. He continues research in secure computing environments for robust intelligence and started the Dutch Secure Autonomous Cloud (DUSAC) initiative.

Apart from his work at CWI Van Dijk holds a professorship at the ECE department at the University of Connecticut. Marten van DIjk has published more than 100 papers in applied cryptography and hardware security and is quoted over 16,500 times with an H-index of 53 on Google scholar.  

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is the world's largest technical professional society. Recognizing the achievements of its members is an important part of the mission of IEEE. Each year, following a rigorous evaluation procedure, the IEEE Fellow Committee recommends a select group of recipients for elevation to IEEE Fellow. Less than 0.1% of voting members are selected each year for this member grade elevation.

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