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Security and Network Engineering

Academic staff

Name: Prof Dr Ir Cees de Laat

Education: Master's degree in Physics and PhD degree (Technical University Delft)

Position at UvA: Lecturer and Research project coordinator


'A lot of the subjects we offer during the research projects are linked to the expertise of our research group. These include distributed systems, cloud computing or applications fields like digital cinema. But we also deliberately offer subjects that we are not specialized in, but do feel are interesting in a broader perspective. Because of our contacts in all sorts of academic and professional fields, we get a lot of interesting questions. When a company like TomTom or KPMG approaches us with security or systems architecture questions, we offer those as research projects. That way your research as a student is always relevant and linked to actuality.'

'The presentation is an important part of the research project. We want students not only to do an interesting project, but also to be able to explain what they did, defend it and answer critical questions from the audience. This is a big difference between an HBO and academic approach. It's about thinking out-of-the-box, taking a step back and looking at the material for a broader perspective. We want them to use their grey brain cells and be creative in their research.'

'For the last few years, we've always had one or two research projects that made headlines. The hacking of the OV-chip card readout system was one of them, another one was the potential hacking of energy meters. We also had two students who won an international price with forensic security research and another two who won the prestigious Joop Bautz price with a detection system for internet viruses.'

'If you look at what has happened in the last 30 years, the growth of technology, knowledge and innovation is exponential. You see the whole IT environment developing as we speak. This changes the job as a security and network engineer setting up and managing his own hardware to more of an information manager. At the same time we intent to train the people that design and manage those internet based data centers. If you keep educating people in traditional areas like the maintenance of mailservers or setting up clusters, they might be no longer relevant in a few years.'