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NEC Laboratories Europe

Research Areas

The Security group (SEC) of NEC Laboratories Europe is considered one of the pioneers in industrial research in the area of security and privacy R&D. The group leverages the expertise of its top researchers in the fields of blockchain security, system security, applied cryptography, and formal methods in order to forge more opportunities for commercial, scientific and innovational breakthroughs and applications. The security group regularly contributes to top tier conference and journal publications, such as ACM CCS, Usenix Security, NDSS, CAV, Journal of the ACM, and various IEEE/ACM transactions.

IoT/Cloud Security

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been envisioned as a large distributed system of devices equipped with sensors and actuators. IoT devices are expected to create and exchange vast amounts of data, thereby bringing forth unprecedented challenges in terms of security and scalability. In such particular settings, available solutions for secure data sharing fall short owing to the magnitude of data produced, heterogeneity of devices, lack of trust among parties, and transparency on data handling.

Our security research aims at ensuring a chain of trust starting from the resource constrained IoT devices, all the way up to the cloud servers where sensor data is actually stored and processed. Our research leverages our deep expertise in state of the art cryptographic techniques, highly scalable policy compliance checking, as well as hardware security modules such as Intel SGX. In doing so, our technologies ensure an unprecedented level of security without hampering scalability and performance of existing real-time services.

Blockchain Security and Privacy

In many distributed applications where trust and transparency are critical factors, the blockchain technology has shown to be a promising solution. It is not surprising, therefore, that both industry and research communities are heavily discussing how to efficiently combine the use of IoT platforms with blockchains.

Indeed, it is expected that the blockchain will stimulate considerable changes to a large number of products, and will positively impact the digital experience of many enterprises around the globe. However, experience with existing blockchain technologies reveals that there are still many challenges that need to be overcome prior to any large-scale industrial adoption of the blockchain paradigm:

  • Privacy: Existing blockchain deployments rely on the availability of transactions and their order of execution to all nodes in the system. Clearly, this comes at odds with current industry practices, which only restrict data sharing and distribution to the intended stakeholders.
  • Security vs Scalability: Existing permission-less blockchains (e.g., Bitcoin) are able to scale to a considerable number of nodes at the expense of attained throughput in order to satisfy a decent level of security. On the other hand, permission-based blockchains can achieve relatively higher throughput, but can only scale to a few hundred nodes. However, one needs to cater for performance, scalability, and security to meet industrial standards.

Our blockchain technologies address these problems and are devised specifically to meet industrial standards. For instance, our blockchain platform leverages a high performance Byzantine Fault Tolerant consensus layer that is able to process up to 100,000 transactions per second when the network contains 200 blockchain nodes.

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