Daniël Ostkamp

Daniël Ostkamp
People often underestimate the importance of privacy.
Daniël Ostkamp
Cyber Security
Current role
PhD student Cyber Security

“I’ve been interested in online privacy and security since I had a computer with an internet connection. People often underestimate the importance of privacy. They’ll say: ‘I don’t have anything to hide!’ But if you ask for their address, they would rather not share it. That tension is fascinating to me.

I had been employed as an ICT consultant for six years when I realised I wanted to focus on the academic side. That’s when I started the master’s programme in software engineering at the Open Universiteit, next to my job. My thesis was on the relation between the privacy-friendly platform IRMA, coined by Bart Jacobs, professor of Cybersecurity at Radboud University, and the standard Verifiable Credentials. IRMA is the acronym for I Reveal My Attributes: the user can decide which information they share for authentication.  

In 2020, an employee of Radboud University told me about a PhD in Nijmegen. I applied, and now I work at iHub in the Encryption4All team. This team researches making communications via email safer. The existing security software, like OpenPGP, has a lot of usability problems: this makes the software too difficult to use. We study how to improve this. In our project, there are five partners actively involved and we consider their interests. Take the Municipality of Nijmegen, for example: what are their online communications with inhabitants like, and can they execute this more safely using e-mail? We work together to get a successful result. 

I joined an event by PhD Organisation Nijmegen (PON) when I started my PhD thesis. Right now, I’m a board member because I enjoy organising events. I would encourage all PhD students to join an event: you can meet other PhD students, and it’s just good fun. We recently went bowling , but there are also educational activities. I would also recommend the course platform gROW: there is a relevant course for everyone there.”

Daniël Ostkamp

In the social media series Future of Science, this time Daniël Ostkamp, PhD student at the Interdisciplinary Hub for Digitalization and Society (iHub).