We have won the 1st prize at the GRÜNDERPREIS NRW!

The prize hon­ours the most suc­cess­ful inno­v­a­tive busi­ness ideas, inno­v­a­tive prod­ucts and entre­pre­neur­ial per­son­al­i­ties from NRW. It is award­ed by the Min­istry of Eco­nom­ics, Inno­va­tion, Digi­ti­sa­tion and Ener­gy of North Rhine-West­phalia and NRW.BANK. The prize was award­ed for the eighth time in 2019 and is one of the high­est endowed com­pe­ti­tions in Ger­many. The award cer­e­mo­ny took place on Mon­day evening in Düs­sel­dorf. The jury con­sist­ed of rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Min­istry of Eco­nom­ic Affairs, NRW.Bank and busi­ness start-up and eco­nom­ic experts from North Rhine-West­phalia.

PHYSEC is a wor­thy win­ner and a great exam­ple for the up-and-com­ing founder state. The com­pa­ny has its ori­gins in the Ruhr-Uni­ver­sität Bochum. This shows the enor­mous poten­tial of com­bin­ing sci­ence and busi­ness,” says Eco­nom­ics and Dig­i­tal Affairs Min­is­ter Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart.

Founders of PHYSEC: Dr. Heiko Koep­ke (l.) and Dr. Chris­t­ian Zenger

As a devel­op­ment bank for North Rhine-West­phalia, we pro­vide busi­ness start-ups with advice and sup­port. And with the NRW GRÜNDERPREIS we are giv­ing them a stage to present their good ideas,” explains Eck­hard Forst, Chair­man of the Man­ag­ing Board of NRW.BANK. “PHYSEC is a shin­ing exam­ple of a start-up from our fed­er­al state and its two founders are high­ly deserved prizewin­ners.

We are delight­ed and thank you very much for this award!

More infor­ma­tion about the founder prize can be found here.

PHYSEC among the Top 10 Start-ups in Germany

PHYSEC among the Top 10 Start-ups in Germany

We have been hon­oured by the busi­ness mag­a­zine BILANZ as one of the top 10 start-ups in Ger­many. The “Start me up!” com­pe­ti­tion, in which we were able to present our tech­nol­o­gy to a jury of experts, took place in Berlin at the begin­ning of July.

Since 2016, the busi­ness mag­a­zine BILANZ has annu­al­ly orga­nized the start-up com­pe­ti­tion with Germany’s most inno­v­a­tive young com­pa­nies. Fur­ther infor­ma­tion on the win­ners will be avail­able in the next issue of BILANZ.


35th Chaos Communication Congress: PHYSEC presents details on the application of their technology

35th Chaos Communication Congress: PHYSEC presents details on the application of their technology

At the 35th annual conference of the Chaos Computer Club (35C3), the largest international hacker meeting in Europe, Christian Zenger, David Holin and Lars Steinschulte presented PHYSEC’s Enclosure-PUF technology.

This year’s Chaos Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Con­gress attract­ed more than 16,000 vis­i­tors to the exhi­bi­tion halls in Leipzig on three days. Under the mot­to “Refresh­ing Mem­o­ries” it was the venue for impor­tant debates, lec­tures and work­shops on tech­ni­cal and socio-polit­i­cal top­ics.

It was the first time that we gave insights into the PHYSEC tech­nol­o­gy. With Enclo­sure-PUF we pre­sent­ed an inno­v­a­tive tech­nol­o­gy that makes it pos­si­ble to ver­i­fy the authen­tic­i­ty, integri­ty and phys­i­cal state of a phys­i­cal object and to prove cor­re­spond­ing state­ments via dig­i­tal chan­nels.

In pub­lic envi­ron­ments, data extrac­tion from or manip­u­la­tion of com­put­er sys­tems is easy to per­form as it requires only phys­i­cal access. The aim of the talk was there­fore to demon­strate exem­plary tam­per resis­tance by means of a (very inex­pen­sive) self-built test bed in order to pro­tect secret infor­ma­tion with­out attack detec­tion or data era­sure cir­cuit. The use of elec­tro­mag­net­ic waves (or their prop­a­ga­tion behav­iour) enables the pro­tec­tion of indi­vid­ual small com­po­nents to be extend­ed to the entire periph­ery of a sys­tem. This in turn leads to the detec­tion of manip­u­la­tions so that suit­able coun­ter­mea­sures can be tak­en in good time. The pro­tec­tion can be used flex­i­bly with regard to size and appli­ca­tion.

In 2018, we were award­ed the Ger­man IT Secu­ri­ty Prize of the Horst Görtz Foun­da­tion for the devel­op­ment of the Enclo­sure PUF.

David Holin, Lars Steinschulte and Christian Zenger (f.l.t.r.) from PHYSEC during the talk at the 35C3 in Leipzig

Missed the talk? Click here for the record­ing.


Innovations from Bochum: MIT Technology Review names Christian Zenger “Innovator under 35” in Europe!

Innovations from Bochum: MIT Technology Review names Christian Zenger “Innovator under 35” in Europe!

After we had the pleasure of receiving his award as “Innovator under 35” in Germany only in July, Dr. Christian Zenger has now received further recognition: He is one of the Europe-wide “innovators under 35”!

Innovators Under 35” is the world’s leading community of innovators, pioneers and social pioneers. Since its inception, MIT Technology Review has annually published the list of the most brilliant innovators under 35 years of age who are making groundbreaking advances and actively shaping their research areas. The European programme highlights the work of the most talented young technology leaders and strengthens the international innovation community. The innovators were selected by the jury from over 1000 candidates.

With PHYSEC, Christian Zenger creates a system that detects small changes in the signals of encryption devices and could thus ensure an impenetrable and above all secure Internet of Things. According to Mahvash Siddiqui, Environment, Science, Technology and Health Officer at the United States Embassy in London (United Kingdom) and member of the jury for innovators under 35 in Europe, the young German innovator shows an “impressive combination of entrepreneurial and scientific-technical skills” and develops a technology “with the potential to change the world”.

Innovators Under 35” is an annual list that recognizes outstanding innovators under the age of 35. The awards cover a wide range of areas, including biotechnology, materials, computer hardware, energy, transport, communications and the Internet. The Technology Review magazine is published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It reports on technological innovations from various fields that have the potential to change the world.

More information on the innovators can be found here.



Innovation “made in germany” — PHYSEC wins the 7th German IT Security Award

Innovation “made in germany” — PHYSEC wins the 7th German IT Security Award

Every two years, the Horst Görtz Foundation honors the best future-relevant innovations in IT security. We received first prize for the development of the Enclosure PUF. The concept makes it possible to verify the integrity of computer systems and their peripherals by using electromagnetic wave propagation effects. The award ceremony took place today at the it-sa trade fair in Nuremberg, the largest IT security trade fair in Europe. The German IT Security Award is the most renowned and highly endowed award in the industry and is determined in a two-stage process by a jury of experts.

More information about the award can be found here.

The Founder and the Award Win­ners ( © 2018 Nürn­bergMesse GmbH)


Christian Zenger is one of Germany’s innovators under 35

Pioneering ideas for the Internet of Things make Christian Zenger an ‘innovator under 35’

Exciting news for PHYSEC GmbH: Our cofounder Christian Zenger was awarded as one of the leading innovators under 35 in Germany for his research in the field of IT security in the Internet of Things (IoT).

PHYSEC com­bines dig­i­tal cryp­tog­ra­phy with infor­ma­tion the­o­ret­i­cal phys­i­cal lay­er secu­ri­ty and thus cre­ates IT secu­ri­ty solu­tions that eclipse all pre­vi­ous­ly known meth­ods. Unpre­dictable elec­tro­mag­net­ic changes between devices are used for encryp­tion: By two devices form­ing a cou­pled sys­tem, a new, com­mon key can be gen­er­at­ed at inter­vals of sec­onds, which can­not be read by exter­nal attack­ers. It can also be used to cre­ate device-spe­cif­ic dig­i­tal fin­ger­prints.

Dr. Chris­t­ian Zenger has there­fore received one of ten “Inno­va­tor under 35” awards in Berlin for his vision­ary tech­nol­o­gy. The Young Tal­ent Award is pre­sent­ed annu­al­ly by the Tech­nol­o­gy Review and hon­ors inno­va­tors who, through out­stand­ing research, have a deci­sive influ­ence in their respec­tive fields and have the poten­tial to use new approach­es to shape the future of sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy in a sus­tain­able man­ner.

The com­pe­ti­tion was ini­ti­at­ed in 1999 by the US edi­tion of MIT Tech­nol­o­gy Review. Well-known for­mer prizewin­ners include Mark Zucker­berg, Sergey Brin and Daniel Ek. It is one of the most pres­ti­gious awards for young researchers, devel­op­ers and com­pa­ny founders.
The award was pre­sent­ed yes­ter­day at the Tele­fóni­ca Base­camp in Berlin.

The ten inno­va­tors under 35 from Ger­many at the award cer­e­mo­ny in Berlin. (© Heise Medi­en)


Outstanding success for young companies

Outstanding success for young companies

PHYSEC GmbH has been awarded the main prize of the largest and most renowned business plan competition in the German digital economy as ‘Digital Start-up 2018’.

At the CeBIT in Hanover, PHYSEC GmbH was award­ed the “Dig­i­tal Start-up 2018” prize by the Fed­er­al Min­istry of Eco­nom­ics and Ener­gy (BMWi) as part of the nation­wide com­pe­ti­tion. The prize was award­ed for the first time and was aimed at young com­pa­nies that have been par­tic­u­lar­ly suc­cess­ful in imple­ment­ing their found­ing ideas. The prize-win­ners received their awards dur­ing the “Start-up Talk: Dig­i­tal Inno­va­tions” con­gress by Thomas Jar­zombek, the Ger­man government’s coor­di­na­tor for aero­space.

PHYSEC convinces with security for the Internet of Things

PHYSEC could con­vince with the solu­tion IoTree, the tech­nol­o­gy for secure and user-friend­ly encryp­tion of com­mu­ni­ca­tion between net­worked devices in the Inter­net of Things. IoTree uses infor­ma­tion from the com­mon envi­ron­ment of two devices so that encryp­tion can­not be recon­struct­ed after­wards by poten­tial exter­nal attack­ers.

More infor­ma­tion about IoTree and pos­si­ble appli­ca­tions can be found here.

The prize provides growth capital for young companies

The prizes of the com­pe­ti­tion are endowed with a total of 100,000 euros — first place goes to 50,000 euros, sec­ond place to 30,000 euros and third place to 10,000 euros each. Oth­er award win­ners include COMPREDICT GmbH, enve­lio GmbH and RIPS Tech­nolo­gies from Bochum. The prize mon­ey is to be invest­ed in the start-ups as growth cap­i­tal.

Start-ups from the start-up ini­tia­tives of the Fed­er­al Min­istry of Eco­nom­ics and Ener­gy can apply for the “Dig­i­tal Start-up of the Year” award. In addi­tion to the “Start-up Com­pe­ti­tion — Dig­i­tal Inno­va­tions”, this also includes fund­ing pro­grammes such as “EXIST — Start-ups from Sci­ence”. A fur­ther con­di­tion for par­tic­i­pa­tion is the gen­er­a­tion of a min­i­mum turnover of 100,000 with­in the past twelve months by the start-ups.

PHYSEC and RIPS Tech­nolo­gies are two of the award-win­ning com­pa­nies from Bochum — the glob­al­ly impor­tant loca­tion for IT secu­ri­ty.

The winners of the competition during the award ceremony at CeBit (©Andrea Janssen)

Novel technology for monitoring nuclear weapons

Novel technology for monitoring nuclear weapons

In the future, this technology might help verify if countries abide by disarmament treaties.

An inter­na­tion­al IT research team from Bochum, Prince­ton, and Har­vard has devel­oped a tech­nol­o­gy that facil­i­tates the mon­i­tor­ing of changes in nuclear silos with­out hav­ing to reveal secret infor­ma­tion about the stored weapons. In future, it is expect­ed to help ver­i­fy if coun­tries abide by dis­ar­ma­ment treaties. The rooms are phys­i­cal­ly mon­i­tored with radio waves; a sophis­ti­cat­ed cryp­to­graph­ic tech­nique ensures that the process can­not be manip­u­lat­ed.

As far as researchers are con­cerned, no chal­lenge is greater than mon­i­tor­ing nuclear weapons: poten­tial attack­ers in this case are entire nations, rather than small groups of hack­ers or oth­er crim­i­nals. The coun­tries have almost unlim­it­ed finan­cial resources at their dis­pos­al and have access to state-of-the-art offen­sive tech­nol­o­gy.

In the inter­dis­ci­pli­nary project, mem­bers of the Bochum-based Horst Görtz Insti­tute for IT Secu­ri­ty (HGI) col­lab­o­rate close­ly with US-Amer­i­can col­leagues from Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty and Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty. A report about the work has been pub­lished in the sci­ence mag­a­zine Rubin.

Radio wave map indi­cates changes

In order to iden­ti­fy changes in a nuclear silo, researchers deploy elec­tro­mag­net­ic waves in the radio fre­quen­cy range. As they are reflect­ed by walls and objects, a unique radio wave map of the room can be gen­er­at­ed. Every change – for exam­ple if a war­head were to be removed from the stor­age facil­i­ty – would change the reflex­ion pat­tern and could thus be detect­ed. As a result, coun­try A could mon­i­tor the nuclear silos of coun­try B by request­ing radio wave maps of the room in reg­u­lar inter­vals.

How­ev­er, we must make sure that a coun­try can­not gen­er­ate a radio wave map of a ful­ly stocked nuclear silo in advance and then con­tin­ues to send it to coun­try A, even after the weapons had long been removed,” explains Dr Dr Ulrich Rührmair from HGI. To this end, the researchers have inte­grat­ed a so-called chal­lenge into the sys­tem, i.e. a vari­a­tion in the request for a radio wave map between the coun­tries.

Pre­vent­ing decep­tion

In the room that has to be mon­i­tored, 20 rotat­ing mir­rors are installed, which can be remote­ly adjust­ed. The mir­rors reflect the radio waves, thus chang­ing the reflex­ion pat­tern in the room, with each mir­ror set­ting cre­at­ing an indi­vid­ual pat­tern. Pri­or to send­ing the request, coun­try A would arrange the mir­rors in a cer­tain way. In reply, coun­try B would have to send the radio wave map of the room with the exact same mir­ror arrange­ment to coun­try A. This can be done only if coun­try B mea­sures the room live with radio waves and the cur­rent mir­ror set­ting every time. Pre­vi­ous­ly record­ed radio wave maps would be use­less.

Coun­try A can ver­i­fy the reply only if the reflex­ion pat­terns for a num­ber of dif­fer­ent mir­ror set­tings were mea­sured and saved when the tech­nol­o­gy was first imple­ment­ed.

Mir­ror arrange­ment must not be pre­dictable

The IT secu­ri­ty researchers are cur­rent­ly test­ing the sys­tem in a con­tain­er at Ruhr-Uni­ver­sität, using dum­my war­heads and 20 mir­rors. This set­ting enables them to cre­ate bil­lions of sex­til­lions dif­fer­ent mir­ror arrange­ments. “The chal­lenge is to make sure that the mon­i­tored coun­try doesn’t learn to pre­dict the next mir­ror set­ting over time,” says HGI researcher Prof Dr Christof Paar. Were this the case, the coun­try could gen­er­ate the required radio wave map with­out scan­ning the room anew.

In order to pre­vent this sce­nario, the IT experts from Bochum deploy an unpre­dictable cryp­to­graph­ic pro­to­col to align the mir­rors. “The impor­tant thing is to ensure that the cor­re­la­tion between the chal­lenge and the reply can­not be described by a sys­tem of lin­ear equa­tion,” says Zenger. “This is because such sys­tems are rel­a­tive­ly easy to fig­ure out in math­e­mat­i­cal terms.” The same applies to the physics, i.e. the mir­ror mate­ri­als: their reflex­ion prop­er­ties shouldn’t be lin­ear either.


IT-security for Embedded Systems

IT-security for Embedded Systems

At the Embed­ded World in Nürn­berg, the inter­na­tion­al lead­ing fair for embed­ded sys­tems, our founder and CEO Dr. Chris­t­ian Zenger gave a lec­ture on it-secu­ri­ty and prod­uct pira­cy in the Inter­net of Things (IoT).

When it comes to the dig­i­ti­za­tion of smart prod­ucts, integri­ty, con­fi­den­tial­i­ty and secu­ri­ty are often not suf­fi­cient­ly con­sid­ered by man­u­fac­tur­ers – although espe­cial­ly pri­va­cy and data secu­ri­ty are con­sid­ered as crit­i­cal suc­cess fac­tors. The chal­lenges of deployed secu­ri­ty sys­tems often lie in device authen­ti­ca­tion and key estab­lish­ment. Dr. Zenger pre­sent­ed an overview over dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories of key man­age­ment and result­ing advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages. The goal was to iden­ti­fy a solu­tion that reduces the secu­ri­ty risk, has a good cost-val­ue ratio and is at the same time flex­i­ble and long-term oper­a­tional.

The Internet of Things: At the area of conflict between simplicity and security

At the 13. Pader­borner day of IT-secu­ri­ty Dr. Chris­t­ian Zenger informed about estab­lished and new secu­ri­ty solu­tions for the dig­i­ti­za­tion of IoT prod­ucts – ide­al­ly, sim­plic­i­ty and secu­ri­ty are inte­grat­ed in suit­able solu­tions. The con­fer­ence took place from 21.–22. March at Uni­ver­si­ty of Pader­born and offers infor­ma­tion and expe­ri­ence exchange about chal­lenges and solu­tions for cur­rent IT-secu­ri­ty-prob­lems.

Digitization and security for the building of the future

At this year’s inter­sec con­fer­ence for net­worked safe­ty engi­neer­ing at Frank­furt, Dr. Chris­t­ian Zenger pre­sent­ed new secu­ri­ty solu­tions for the intel­li­gent key man­age­ment in the IoT ecosys­tem.


Solutions for the modern public utility industry

Solutions for the modern public utility industry

With our solu­tion for the effi­cient remote read­out of water- and elec­tric­i­ty meters, PHYSEC GmbH was present at the ‘e‑world ener­gy & water’ in Essen: LoRa®TLS enables the instal­la­tion of secure and encrypt­ed radio com­mu­ni­ca­tions over long dis­tances.

As a holis­tic solu­tion it is there­fore espe­cial­ly rel­e­vant for pub­lic util­i­ties like munic­i­pal util­i­ties. Addi­tion­al­ly, it is an inte­gral part when it comes to smart city con­cepts.

The project is con­duct­ed togeth­er with our part­ner Gelsen­wass­er AG and was devel­oped one year ago.

Get to know how PHYSEC has changed since then and what role the project took in the process: