Centres of cyber excellence

Ella Rhodes reports.

Northumbria University and De Montfort University have recently been recognised as Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research through a government initiative. Since 2011 the scheme, sponsored through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has recognised 19 universities which are leading the way in cybersecurity research as part of the government’s £1.9 billion National Cyber Security Strategy.

Each university which is recognised as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACEs-CSR) must meet rigorous minimum requirements. A university’s leadership must show commitment in supporting and investing in their institution’s cyber security capacity and capability, have a 'critical mass' of staff researching cyber security, have a track record of publishing high-impact cyber security research and have sustained funding from numerous sources for its research teams.

Northumbria’s multidisciplinary Cyber Security Research Group, led by Psychologist Professor Lynne Coventry, works on biometric encryption, wireless sensor networks, web security protocols and image recognition. It is working to identify the risks, virtual and physical, associated with smart cities complementing other work at the university related to the digital living space which explores the intersection of people, place and technology.

Coventry said in a statement that while technological solutions have often been the focus of cybersecurity research people have been left behind and have become a prime target for cyber attackers. ‘To stop today’s advanced attacks we need to understand how to better protect the general public by adopting a people-centric cybersecurity strategy and exploring how to design security technology and policies which support individuals in their endeavours, rather than being perceived as a barrier. At Northumbria our holistic, multidisciplinary approach to cyber security integrates diverse knowledge from specialists in technology, human behaviour, business, law and design. We are delighted to receive this recognition for our work in these areas.’

Research at De Montfort’s Cyber Technology Institute (CTI) takes a focus on developing technology to ensure cyberspace is safe and secure and is supported through an Industrial Advisory Group made up of BT, Deloitte, Rolls-Royce and Airbus. The institute’s Director, Professor in Cyber Security Eerke Boiten, said he was very proud of the achievement. ‘This recognition will strongly support our future plans for national and international collaborative research in topics such as industrial control systems, human factors in security, incident response, cybercrime and privacy.’

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