Monday, 25. October 2010 25.10.10 16:05 Age: 7 Jahre

Watching security in consumer energy-usage data
For junior professor Dr. Christoph Sorge, data protection is written large

By: Katharina Bätz

Watching security in consumer energy-usage data: junior professor Dr. Christoph Sorge. (Foto: Katharina Bätz)

Paderborn. Christoph Sorge moved to Paderborn only 8 months ago. "I really like this city. I was surprised - in a good way," says the 30-year-old. The reason for his move: since March of this year, Christoph Sorge is junior professor at the Computer Science Institute at the University of Paderborn. As associate member of the project group Codes and Cryptography, he is especially interested in the security aspects of networks.

"I always wanted to return to a university setting," says Sorge, who spent time in Karlsruhe and Heidelberg before his nomination in Paderborn. He received his doctorate from the University of Karlsruhe in 2007 after studying computer science. Topic of his doctoral thesis was the development of distributed recommendation systems and the corresponding ensurance of data protection.

A specific aspect of his research was the legal point of view: "My thesis was co-advised by a jurist and was half legal content", says Sorge, whose specialties are data protection and telecommunication law. Asked about the advantages he has compared to legal professionals in this area, he states: "I have insights into the legal aspects, but as a computer scientist I understand the technology as well".

Before his move to Paderborn, Christoph Sorge worked for the Japanese electronics giant NEC in Heidelberg, in the research center for network technology. In Paderborn he collaborates with research assistant Ronald Petrlic on applied areas of network security. Among other subjects, the pair is working on intelligent energy-use counters, which send household energy-consumption data to the energy provider every 15 minutes.

"This development is in no way novel, but the technology still has data protection issues", Sorge explains. Energy providers can see almost exactly when a household uses the washer, shower or dishwasher. "I see a clear privacy and data protection issue here, and legal experts have already thrown in the towel", says Sorge. The "junior professor" therefore focuses on the technology that should prohibit the energy provider from knowing who is using energy for what. "Of course the positive functionality should be maintained, but it is still important to guarantee household data privacy", states Sorge.

Until now, the research activities of this new citizen of Paderborn are still at the theoretical level. However, the aim is to focus more - with the help of bachelor and master theses - on the technical applications, so that the first concrete results can be expected in the spring of 2011.

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Christoph Sorge
Field of Network Security
05251 60-6691