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"We are committed to scientific excellence and cutting-edge research, and are aiming to develop CISPA into one of the leading cybersecurity research centers in the world."

Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Michael Backes
Founding Director & CEO

Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Michael Backes | Founding Director & CEO | © Tobias Ebelshäuser

©Tobias Ebelshäuser


When the president of the Helmholtz Association contacted me in December 2016 to jointly explore the foundation of a new Helmholtz Center for Information Security, I was both overwhelmed and flattered. Several weeks needed to pass until I started to understand the true dimension of what was being envisioned here: building up a world-class research center with truly comprehensive base funding for more than 500 researchers, committed to scientific excellence and cutting-edge research, and dedicated to targeting the grand Cybersecurity challenges that we face in our age of digitalization. I learned that the foundation of a new Helmholtz Center is an exceptionally rare, far-reaching decision taken with the objective of assuming a global lead in a research topic that is of sovereign importance. I was thrilled by the ability to build up such a center, and I felt that it was a journey, of which I for sure wanted to be part of.

We are currently focusing on attracting some of the best national and international researchers to the CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security. We know that we cannot compete with the long-standing traditions and renowned reputations of the top American and European universities. Yet we believe that we can offer an inspiring working place that is defined by our commitment to excellence and our blue-sky ambitions. We provide comprehensive sustained resources that enable freedom of research and the ability to tackle some of the grand, long-term Cybersecurity research challenges. I am convinced that this situation offers unique opportunities for outstanding researchers at all stages of their career, and I will do everything in my power to evolve CISPA into one of the leading Cybersecurity research centers in the world.

I sincerely hope that this website conveys the spirit that animates this new research center. Most of all, I hope that you will soon have the opportunity to visit us here in the beautiful state of Saarland, right in the heart of Europe to renew old acquaintances or to create new ones. We are looking forward to welcoming you here.

Best wishes,
Michael Backes -
Founding Director and CEO of the CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security


Michael Backes is the founding director and CEO of the CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security. In his research, Backes focuses primarily on novel methods for protecting personal data, trustworthy methods for machine learning and universal solutions for software and system security. His research results have shaped these scientific fields both nationally and internationally, as impressively evidenced by over 300 peer-reviewed and much cited publications in renowned international journals and conference proceedings.

His research has earned Backes internationally renowned scientific awards and honors, in particular the ERC Synergy Grant, which is Europe's most highly endowed EU research award, the Karl Heinz Beckurts Prize, an ERC Starting Grant, the Caspar Bowden Privacy Award, the IEEE Fellowship, as well as various Career Awards and Best Paper Awards. Backes was appointed 2023 ACM Fellow.

His research results have regularly been translated into highly innovative applications that have brought him widespread attention beyond the scientific community. Backes was the first German to receive the MIT TR35 Award, which recognized him as one of the top 35 researchers and innovators in the world under the age of 35 (across disciplines) whose “accomplishments are poised to have a dramatic impact on the world as we know it”.

Director Backes is the youngest member of the Academy of Engineering Sciences "acaTech" to date. He is regularly listed in rankings as one of Germany's most important IT personalities and was honored by former Federal Minister Johanna Wanka as one of Germany's digital minds. He holds an honorary doctorate from the Université de Lorraine and is both “Zukunftsbotschafter” and honorary citizen of the city of St. Ingbert.

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2023: ACM Fellow for contributions to information security and privacy

2019: Karl Heinz Beckurts Price

2018:  IEEE Fellow

2018: Honorary Doctorate, Université de Lorraine

2017: NSA Cybersecurity Research Award

2017: IEEE Golden Core Award

2017: CNIL-INRIA Privacy Award

2014: ERC Synergy Grant

2014: IEEE Outstanding Community Service Award

2011: IEEE Outstanding Community Service Award

2009: ERC Starting Grant


2008: IBM Faculty Award

2007: Fellow of the German Max Planck Society

2005: IBM Outstanding Achievement Award for Linking Formal Verification and Cryptography

2005: IBM Research Division Award for contributions to Web Services Security

2004: Microsoft Award for outstanding research in privacy enhancing technologies

2004: IBM Outstanding Achievement Award for contributions to Enterprise Privacy Architectures

2002: VDI Diploma Thesis Award

2001: Scholarship of the DFG graduate studies program ”Quality Guarantees for Computer Systems”


2015: Member of the German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech)

2015: Teaching Award of the State of Saarland

2014: Named one of Germany’s Digital Minds by Federal Minister Wanka

2014: CS Teaching Award of Saarland University

2009: MIT TR35 (35 most outstanding researchers / innovators under the age of 35 worldwide)

2010/11:  Top-40 of German IT people, ranking of Computerwoche

2010 - 2014: Top-40-under-40 of German researchers, ranking of Capital

2009: CS Teaching Award of Saarland University

2007: CS Teaching Award of Saarland University




2018: ACM Computer and Communication Security Conference (CCS)

2016: IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy (EuroS&P)

2014: IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy (S&P)

2013: IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy (S&P)

2011: IEEE Computer Security Foundations Symposium (CSF)

2010: IEEE Computer Security Foundations Symposium (CSF)

2009: European Symposium on Research in Computer Security (ESORICS)

2006: Information Security Conference (ISC)



2015 - present
IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy (EuroS&P, chair)

2013 – present
IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy (S&P)

2010 – present
IEEE Computer Security Foundations Symposium (CSF)

2009 – present
European Symposium on Research in Computer Security (ESORICS)

2003 – 2008
ACM Workshop on Formal Methods in Systems Engineering (FMSE)



2016 – present
CACM’s Research Highlights

2014 – present
Foundations and Trends in Security and Privacy, Editorial Board

2012 – 2013
Journal of Computer Security, Editor

2007 – 2012
International Journal of Information Security, Editorial Board


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