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SBA Research gGmbH, Vienna/Austria – project “MAPO” (innovation courses)

SBA Research is a research institution for IT security located in Vienna, Austria. Since its foundation in 2006, it became Austria’s biggest research centre in the field, with approx. 100 employees and numerous academic and industry partners. Since 2010 SBA Research is part of “COMET Competence Centers for Excellent Technologies”, a program funded by the Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT), the Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW) and the federal state of Vienna; COMET is carried out by the the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG.

SBA Research and its partners are doing high-level research on an international scale in four major areas:

Since the COMET program is designed to promote joint research between scientific and industry partners, SBA Research has long-standing public private partnerships with national and international universities, universities of applied sciences and companies. Also, education is a core value of SBA Research’s work – regarding own employees, co-workers at partner companies and institutions as well as laypeople. Therefore, educational aspects are always considered and respective initiatives taken whenever possible. That includes – on an permanent level – Whitepapers, Workshops, certification courses and of course teaching activities at universities and universities of applied sciences. When the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG opened a call for innovation courses to enhance competencies in applied research1 in 2012, SBA Research submitted a proposal and won funding for a large-scale NIS educational project named “MAPO” (MAPO – Malware Analysis, Privacy & Obfuscation).

MAPO started in 2014 and will be running for about two years. The project includes the planning and execution of highly specialized innovation courses and transfer projects regarding the topics „Malware Analysis, (De-)Obfuscation, Privacy and Mobile Security”. The goal is to combine specialized knowledge of several IT security areas in order to improve the detailed knowledge of the participating employees at the partner companies, reaching an international top level. MAPO is a joint project of – beside SBA Research – two scientific and seven company partners:

  • Academia:

Technische Universität Wien, University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien

  • Industry:

SEC-Consult Unternehmensberatung GmbH, Nic.at GmbH, LG Nexera Business Solutions AG, ISCP GmbH, Cyan Networks Software GmbH, XiTrust Secure Technologies GmbH and S&T AG

In the course of the project interested third parties were – after consulting the partner companies – invited to selected meetings: Ikarus Security Software GmbH, Federal Chancellery, Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defense.

The IT security contents of the innovation courses were conveyed theoretically as well as in practice; for the latter, virtual environments were created to facilitate exercises like “Hack week”, during which the participants solved multiple security problems. The courses so far achieved a extremely high and very specific level, given that the participants do have a strong knowledge in information security and shared their own expertise during the exercises. These circumstances yielded questions, discussions and solutions which were not originally anticipated and went far beyond any contents that traditional commercial courses can offer. Furthermore it is of particular importance to the project team and its leaders, Dr. Edgar Weippl (TU Wien) and Dr. Martin Mulazzani (SBA Research), to integrate current research results into the curriculum. The talks held during the workshops referenced core topics of the research partners: Malware Analyse, Privacy Protection, Obfuscation and Mobile Security. Such topics are not only in the focus of national research institutions and companies, but are also demanded by top conferences and journals. MAPO achieved to communicate published as well as at the time still unpublished research results to the project’s company partners and thereby create a new quality in NIS education. On the other hand, contents and feedback of the industry partners was discussed immediately and could be considered in the design of the further curriculum.

SBA Research will conclude this project in 2015/2016; the hoped-for final outcome is to have created a new and feasible format for knowledge transfer and NIS education between public and private institutions and to have further proven that offering highly specialised courses is the right path. The motivation of experienced technicians, i.e. key personnel in research as well as industrial entities, is strongly depended on them (1) getting the impression to learn contents and technologies that they didn’t know in details and (2) to have this happening in a time-efficient manner, i.e. that it would have taken more time to learn it on one’s own and that aspects would have been treated only superficially. The expected impact of the MAPO project is an enhanced mutual benefit in existing and future public private partnerships, furthering applied research as well as industrial R&D in a new and specialised quality. In terms of outreach, the project not only trains the participants in all aspects of software security, but also requires so-called “transfer projects”, during which the MAPO participants disseminate their gained knowledge within their own organisations. The projects will keep its open structure to be abe to answer the technical and professional requirements of all partners involved.

ENISA: PPP in NIS – case study: SBA Research gGmbH, Vienna/Austria – project “MAPO” (innovation courses)

1st draft, 04/06/2015

Within MAPO and beyond, SBA Research is maintaining and furthering existing, often long-standing partnerships while developing new (private public) partnerships in the course of e.g. project proposals, being a reliable and quick-to-respond partner itself. Coalitions and partnerships are also developed out of SBA Research’s commercial activities. […] In regards to NIS education, SBA Research plans to propose a follow-up project to MAPO, incorporating the vast experience gained during the current project. […]

In the experience of SBA Research, public private partnerships in NIS education are a necessary and mutually beneficial tool to further NIS in both the private and public sector. SBA Research defines itself as a bridge between science and industry and strives to initiate, promote and support PPPs in NIS wherever possible. […]


Frau Veronika Nowak

SBA Research gGmbH

Favoritenstr. 16

A-1040 Vienna