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Annabelle Theobald

Busy Beaver Award Once Again for CISPA Faculty Michael Schwarz

Computer science students at Saarland University honor the CISPA researcher for the second time for his outstanding performance.

Each semester, the Computer Science Student Council at Saarland University presents the Busy Beaver Award to faculty members who have shown exceptional commitment to teaching. Michael Schwarz, who moved from TU Graz to CISPA in 2020, already inspired the Saarbrücken students with his lecture "Side-Channel Attacks and Defenses" in his first teaching semester in the summer of 2021. Now the native Austrian is once again receiving the coveted award among teachers. This time for his regular lecture, "Foundations of Cybersecurity II," in the summer semester of 2022. "I'm pleased about the Busy Beaver Award because it comes directly from the students and shows that they appreciate my way of teaching."  

His lecture focuses on software and systems security. This includes malware, software vulnerabilities, isolation techniques, and side channels. Participants learn about different types of software vulnerabilities, how to find and exploit them, and how to prevent them. In addition, the lecture covers techniques to deal with existing vulnerabilities. The topics are treated in a way that is not too theoretical: There are live demos, hands-on exercises, and a capture-the-flag challenge throughout the semester, where students delve deeper into the content. As further motivation, there are prizes for the best participants and a final event in the shape of a pub quiz, where students can demonstrate knowledge in a pleasant atmosphere. 

Teaching is essential to the researcher because he can raise interest in research among young scientists in lectures and seminars and has already discovered many talents along the way. "After the many virtual sessions in the previous two semesters, it was nice to meet the Saarbrücken students in person this summer finally."  

translated by Oliver Schedler