The Computer Security and Industrial Cryptography (COSIC) research group was founded in 1979 and currently has 8 professors, 8 members of support staff, 8 research experts/managers and over 80 researchers.
The group is headed by Bart Preneel.
COSIC is part of the Department of Electrical Engineering at KU Leuven. During the last 15 years, COSIC obtained more than 1200 international reviewed publications in journals and conferences, 13 edited books, 10 patents and has graduated over 60 PhD students.
Research at COSIC is organized in 5 different teams. Each team has a different research focus in the area of cryptography:
- Symmetric Key Cryptography
- Public Key and Protocols Team
- Embedded Systems and Hardware Security Team
- Privacy and Identity Management
- Mobile and Wireless Security
COSIC focuses on the protection of digital information. Our group develops advanced cybersecurity solutions to protect data in the cloud and in the Internet of Things (IoT), and to protect the privacy of users.
Our theoretical work is mainly based on discrete mathematics such as number theory, lattices, finite fields, boolean algebra, but also includes statistics and optimization. Building on these techniques, we create new cryptographic algorithms and protocols and we develop efficient and secure implementations in software and hardware. Researchers from our team also create secure hardware building blocks such as True Random Number Generators (TRNGs) and Physical Unclonable Functions (PUFs) that uniquely identify hardware. COSIC has an evaluation lab to assess the security of embedded devices, using for example side-channel and fault attacks.
Staff from COSIC has created the global AES standard for encryption that can be used to protect US government information up to top secret level. A special AES instruction has been added to all x86 processor chips from Intel and AMD and to many ARM chips. This means that AES protects billions of laptops, mobile phones and electronic devices worldwide. Looking towards the future, we are creating novel cryptographic schemes that resist attacks on future quantum computers and efficient schemes to compute on encrypted data. Researchers from our team also develop innovative solutions for Multi-Party Computation (MPC), which allow mutually distrustful parties to compute information on their data sets without sharing them.
COSIC applies this knowledge to create security mechanisms for embedded systems and to build architectures that offer “security-by-design” and “privacy-by-design”. This work leads to privacy-friendly techniques for user authentication including biometrics. Application fields that are studied include road-pricing, implantable medical devices, smart cars, smart grids and smart cities. In the area of privacy, our team has developed solutions for anonymous communications and for the detection of covert user tracking. In the area of blockchain, we are developing privacy-friendly logging techniques and we are studying the stability and efficiency of cryptocurrencies.
COSIC organizes seminars regularly. Everybody is welcome, attendance is free and registration is not required.
Details about upcoming seminars can be found in the box ‘upcoming events’ on the right-hand side or in our calendar. If you wish to receive event announcements via email, send us a request to subscribe to our mailing list to:
All recorded COSIC seminars can be found on our YouTube channel.
The COSIC research group recognizes the importance of networking and cooperation. Event organization is an important step to achieve cross-fertilization between researchers. COSIC organizes summer schools, workshops and international conferences.
In the past, COSIC has hosted big international conferences such as EUROCRYPT, FSE, CHES and ESORICS.
European research projects
COSIC has participated in 50+ European research projects (inc. 5 ERCs) through which it gained thorough experience in privacy-enhancing technologies, identity management, and design and analysis of cryptographic algorithms, protocols and architectures.
In six of these EU projects COSIC acted as the coordinator.
Our group was also involved in nearly 60 national and regional research projects.
COSIC collaborates actively with industry and government for short- and medium-term contract research and consulting.
COSIC is part of the Smart Applications and Innovation Services of imec, a high-tech research and innovation hub for nanoelectronics and digital technologies.
Imec’s mission is to bring together brilliant minds from all over the world in a creative and stimulating environment. Imec aims for radical innovation and maximizes societal impact by creating smart sustainable solutions that enhance life.