© 2022 Jan Urech

© 2022 Jan Urech

To promote research and education in cyber-defence, EPFL and the Cyber-Defence (CYD) Campus launched in 2020 the rolling call for Master Thesis Fellowships – A Talent Program for Cyber-Defence Research.

This month we are introducing you Jan Urech, the recipient of the fifth CYD Master Thesis Fellowship. Jan is in the second year of his Master's studies in Computer Science and works on his master thesis at the Networked Systems Group at ETHZ.

How did you find out about the CYD Fellowships and what motivated you to apply?

During a conversation with my supervisors about potential master thesis topics, they told me about the CYD Fellowship program. I decided to apply to the program because it fit my planned master thesis topic well and the collaboration with the CYD campus would allow me to run the virtual environment required to conduct my thesis

What is your CYD Fellowship project about?

In my master thesis I am working on the implementation of an automated defender for Locked Shields, a Cyber Defence Exercise. The design of the defender is based on previous theoretical work that proposed this approach as a novel concept.

What are the advantages of conducting your master thesis/doctoral/postdoctoral project at the CYD Campus?

The collaboration with the CYD Campus allows me to work with experts in the field have hands-on experience at the Locked Shields exercise as well as with the author of the paper that is the foundation of my thesis. I also get to use the infrastructure available allowing me to create and run a virtual environment simulating parts of a Cyber Defence Exercise.

Did you as a child dream of working in cyber-defence?

I was already fiddling with computers as a child and broke some of them in the process. As I gather more experience during my teens, I started looking into more specific computer science topics and my interest in Cyber Defence grew.

What is driving you to pursue research in cyber-defence?

Cyber Defence is a cat and mouse game between attackers and defenders. I like the dynamic that the interaction between offence and defence brings to the field and the research in it.

What is the most important lesson you have learned in your scientific career so far?

Working hands-on in a projects provides me with a deep understanding of thecontents of a project. This allows me to gain an understanding of a topic better than any reading or presentation ever could provide.

What are you most proud of in your career to date?

I enjoyed spending a lot of time on the many challenging projects that were part of my studies at ETH and am proud of the results I was able to achieve. Early in my bachelor’s I co-founded a committee of the student association at ETH called GECo (Gaming and Entertainment Committee) which I led until the start of my master thesis. One of the events that is regularly organized by GECo is PolyLAN Zurich, the biggest LAN party in Zurich.

Outside the lab, what do you enjoy doing most?

I love to snowboard during the winter and to surf in the summer. All year round I like to spend extra time cooking and playing competitive computer games with friends.

What are your expectations about the CYD Fellowship?

The Fellowship will allow me to get the most out of my master thesis and to have an exchange with the other fellows.

Could you share some tips with future applicants who are considering applying for the CYD Fellowships?

Apply as early as possible. The application involves multiple steps and all in all the process will take some time. Applying early will allow you to be more flexible in terms of the start date of your work.


The CYD Fellowships are supported by armasuisse Science and Technology.