We travelled to Malmö early this month to find out how SWITS operates their annual seminar. SWITS is the Swedish IT Security Network for Ph.D. Students, similar to the COINS research school of computer and information security we are setting up in Norway. SWITS has been in business for more than ten years, and has successfully gathered Ph.D. students and research groups in information security in Sweden.
Each year, SWITS organises a two-day seminar. The seminar is held at a different location every time, this year in Malmö (supported by Lund University), next year probably in Uppsala.
On the first day, research groups presented themselves with each group using only a couple of minutes. This was followed by three consecutive sessions of three Ph.D. student presentations per session, separated by a lunch break and a short break. The presentations were grouped by topics, i.e. “Smart Phone Security and Trusted Platforms”, “Privacy and PETs”, and “Software Security and Information Flow”. Ph.D. students were at different stages in their projects, with some having just started and trying to scope their topic, others in the midst of data gathering and evaluation, and others close to finishing, using the presentation as an exercise for their thesis defence.
After the Ph.D. student presentations we gave a presentation on COINS and discussed possible opportunities for Norwegian/Swedish cooperation in Ph.D. training in information security. The discussion yielded several good ideas, and as one concrete result we will invite students from Sweden to NISK, the annual Norwegian information security conference to be held in Stavanger later this year. More ideas were:
- Promote NordSec better on the COINS website, together with other similar Nordic events
- Joint courses, block-mode with SWITS member institutions
- Joint Capture the Flag events, joint teams, organise a Nordic event
- Joint SWITS/COINS event with students presentations/workshops
- Various competitions, e.g. along the lines of Harvard Business School competitions where there is a joint Norwegian/Swedish jury
- Share information about upcoming Ph.D. defences – and send out invitations
Parallel group discussions followed on “Software Security”, “Security Management”, “Network Security”, and “PETs”. After group discussions, participants went on a boat trip and joined for dinner.
The second day also had three sessions of three Ph.D. student presentations each, interrupted by an invited talk (Jonas Hallberg from FOI on the SECURIT research programme) and a lunch break as well as several short breaks. The seminar was concluded by an invited talk presenting new IT security projects at MSB, the department for security and preparedness in Sweden. MSB also supports SWITS financially.
The concept seemed to work well with participants and organisers, so we are considering to have the first COINS Ph.D. student seminar in a similar fashion.