Reports on the UK’s ability to protect its technology, data and networks from the threat of cyber crime are frequently in the news. With electronic systems increasingly relying on the Internet to manage everyday things like electricity, air traffic control or food supplies, it’s critical that products and systems are manufactured with defences against cyber attack built-in at the production stage.
With this in mind, Cranfield University and Atkins – one of the world’s leading design, engineering and project management consultancies – will now collaborate to provide the thought leadership needed to address this major challenge.
A new professorial chair in Cyber-Secure Engineering Systems and Processes at Cranfield University will be funded by Atkins. Leading a new research area within the Manufacturing Informatics Centre, the role will focus on developing an understanding of – and responses to – digitally-based threats.
The Manufacturing Informatics Centre will address the challenges associated with cyber threats to increasingly connected and complex engineering systems and processes by creating innovative engineering solutions which protect both systems and knowledge in multiple manufacturing sectors.
Professor Rajkumar Roy, director of manufacturing at Cranfield University, explained: “Modern complex engineering systems can sometimes be less secure than traditional ones, while cyber threats are a major and growing challenge. We aim to develop the next generation of manufacturing engineers and managers who are able to protect manufacturing systems and machines from cyber threats. Cyber-secure ‘Internet of Things’ technology development will have a major impact on implementing Industry 4.0, which uses the Internet to connect ‘Smart Factories’ with their supply chains across a number of sectors.”
Professor Roy went on to state: “The introduction of this new chair in tandem with our new MSc in Cyber-Secure Manufacturing will provide an opportunity to serve our industry needs in the UK as well as influence the design of next generation engineering systems.”
Russell Cameron, technology director at Atkins, added: “We’re excited by this opportunity to partner with Cranfield University in order to bring its leading academic cyber research and resources together with our own design, engineering and cyber capabilities and experience. I have no doubt that this partnership will help our Critical National Infrastructure and manufacturing clients alike in meeting the increasingly complex challenges they face when it comes to improving their cyber resilience.”