"Nothing to hide"

Has democracy been hacked?  Is the growing importance of the internet, mass-surveillance and our current privacy legislation compatible with maintaining a fair, uninfluenced democracy? 

This year’s symposium will cover topics concerning data security and the dangers of mass-surveillance, with the aim to demonstrate how technology can have catastrophic effects on society and the democratic system. Our goal is to encourage students to think about the balance between security and safety in the age of information.

"Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say."

- Edward Snowden


12th of March, 2020 
10:45 - 17:15
Groninger Forum


Time Activity
10:45 - 11:20 Arrival of guests
11:25 - 11:35 Intro talk
11:40 - 12:30 Wiebe van Ranst
12:30 - 14:00 Lunch break at Vapiano
14:00 - 14:50 Berco Beute
14:50 - 15:15 Coffee break
15:15 - 16:05 Dirk Zittersteyn
16:05 - 17:00 Borrel



Daniel Domscheit-Berg


Daniel Domscheit-Berg, born in 1978, is a German activist and IT security expert. He helped build the WikiLeaks platform from late 2007 to September 2010, and acted as its spokesperson under the pseudonym Daniel Schmitt. Domscheit-Berg wrote a book about his experiences "InsideWikiLeaks“, which was published in early 2011, was translated into 23 languages and was one source for the subsequent Hollywood movie "The Fifth Estate".

Before WikiLeaks, Domscheit-Berg worked for various Fortune 500 companies, mainly building enterprise-scale wireless and wired networks for the automotive and transport industries. A network security expert by trade, Domscheit-Berg is an advocate for transparency and freedom of speech by heart, deeply caring for equal access to knowledge and information in a globalized world. In 2011, he was named by Foreign Policy magazine in its FP Top 100 GlobalThinkers. Domscheit-Berg today is involved with various internet projects related to privacy and anonymity, and furthering the decentralization of the Internet's infrastructure.

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Wiebe van Ranst

Researcher, KU Leuven

Wiebe Van Ranst is currently active as a post-doctoral researcher in the EAVISE research group of KU Leuven. Currently, his research is on applying neural nets on embedded hardware. During his career Wiebe also won some awards, the paper "Fooling automated surveillance cameras: adversarial patches to attack person detection." Which Wiebe co-authored was ranked number 97 in the Almetric most talked about papers of 2019.

Title: Fooling automated surveillance cameras: adversarial patches to attack person detection. Adverserial attacks on machine learning models have seen increasing interest in the past years. By making only subtle changes to the input of a convolutional neural network, the output of the network can be swayed to output a completely different result. The first attacks did this by changing pixel values of an input image slightly to fool a classifier to output the wrong class. Other approaches have tried to learn "patches" that can be applied to an object to fool detectors and classifiers. Some of these approaches have also shown that these attacks are feasible in the real-world, i.e. by modifying an object and filming it with a video camera. However, all of these approaches target classes that contain almost no intra-class variety (e.g. stop signs). The known structure of the object is then used to generate an adversarial patch on top of it. This talk will be about our work on how to generate adversarial patches to targets with lots of intra-class variety, namely persons. In this work, the goal is to generate a patch that is able successfully hide a person from a person detector. With this goal in mind we explore the possibility of being able to maliciously circumvent surveillance systems. After that we go deeper into the current state-of-the-art of real-world adversarial attacks.

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Dirk Zittersteyn

Senior Software Engineer at HackerOne

Dirk Zittersteyn is a Senior Software Engineer and studied Computing Science at the RUG. HackerOne is a vulnerability testing platform founded in Groningen in 2012. It is an open platform built for the express purpose of easing the administrative overhead when companies with security vulnerabilities pay bounties to the hackers who found them. Dirk will talk about the vulnerabilities of web applications and why they are so problematic. He will also discuss some vulnerability cases that he has handled at HackerOne.

Dirk Zittersteyn is a Senior Software Engineer at HackerOne, and studied Computing Science at the University of Groningen. At HackerOne, founded in 2012 in Groningen, he helps build a hacker-powered security platform. It offers white-hat hackers the possibility to legally hack on companies who welcome their security expertise. Companies use HackerOne to amplify their security team, by tapping in to the expertise of over 600,000 hackers. In the last few years, HackerOne has paid out over $80M to ethical hackers from around the world. These days, a lot of our most sensitive data is regularly managed via web applications. From your bank details to your photo library and from your medical history to the location of your house, we want to manage everything from the comfort of our couch. A lot of folks at this symposium will at some point in their careers end up writing code for a web application. Dirk will walk us through some of the more common slip-ups that folks make, and what the impact of those vulnerability types can be. HackerOne has a repository of thousands of publicly accessible vulnerabilities. What better way to learn how to write secure code than by discussing some of the vulnerabilities that hackers have reported in the platform, as well as in some of HackerOne's customers!

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Frank Brokken

IT Security expert and lecturer at RUG

Frank Brokken is a lecturer at the University of Groningen. Although retired in 2015, Frank still teaches C++. Over the years he introduced several thousands of students to basic up to advanced level programming in C++, receiving very positive feedback from participating students. In 2000 he was appointed as the University's first IT Security Manager, which he was until his retirement in 2015. In that capacity he organized and presented courses on Information Security.

The presentation, titled 'Information Security: Technology and Beyond' covers aspects of information security. Over decades much knowledge has beenaccumulated about how to secure information. Many of the underlying principlesare firmly rooted in military history. When computers started to become available to the general public they were called `personal computers'. Unfortunately many people still look at computers that way, frequently resulting in painful consequences as we recently could observe at the University of Maastricht. Can we hope to avoid those kinds of incidents in the future? Fox-it performed an in-depth analysis of what happened and provided sound and well-meant advice. Although well-meant, their advice will also most likely turn out to be insufficient. To achieve an acceptable level of information security we need fundamentally different approaches, in addition to the commonly encountered technical approaches to information security.

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Berco Beute

Researcher, Developer, CTO, author and entrepeneur

Dr. Berco Beute is a software professional from Groningen. With master’s degrees in both Communication Science and AI, and a PhD in Distributed Systems he has been working on the forefront of internet technologies since the early 90’s. As researcher, developer, CTO, author and entrepreneur. His lifelong passion has always been thinking of better ways to build information systems. Since he believes that needs to be fixed and improved to get us out of the mess we are in. Berco is currently working as an architect at TKP, founder/CEO of Stekz, founder/CTO of Satys, and organizer of the Dutch Python conference PyGrunn. Besides that Berco is a proud father of 3 sons, 3D designer, snowboarder and musician.

Copy considered harmful: Rethinking the way we build information systems. Copying data all over the place has been a necessity for decades due to network(ing) limitations. While networking has improved dramatically most implementations of information systems still start by copying data to a central place. But the same improvements in networking opened up access to those central datastores as well leading to all kinds of problems. In this talk Berco will provide some background on the issue as well as offer an alternative approach to building information systems that avoid most of the mentioned pitfalls.

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Early-bird tickets are SOLD OUT! We are happy to announce that our predicted 100 tickets are bought. But rest assure, the Forum has still place for more people so you can still attend the Symposium. LATE-bird tickets are available for €15!
This will include the symposium and lunch at Vapiano. 

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