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UK universities recognised as ‘Academic Centres of Excellence’ in cyber security research

by Brian Sims

Three UK universities have been recognised as Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research, highlighting the fact that the country is leading the way in cyber security skills. The National Cyber Security Centre and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council have identified the University of Kent, King’s College London and Cardiff University as having first-rate research defined by scale and impact.

The trio of universities will now join 14 other institutions in a scheme forming part of the Government’s National Cyber Security Strategy, which is making the UK the safest place to be online and helping to support the country’s thriving digital economy.

The universities have the opportunity to bid for funding to develop cutting-edge research in cyber security, including at Doctoral level, as well as attend annual conferences and workshops.

The scheme aims to create a better understanding of the strength of the UK’s academic capability in cyber security and identify areas where there are research opportunities or technical gaps. It makes collaboration between academia, business and Government easier, and also helps to make sure that cutting-edge research is turned into practical products and services. This includes developing tools designed to tackle mass marketing fraud online and better understand cyber criminals.

Fantastic research recognised

Margot James, the Minister for Digital, said: “These universities are doing fantastic research in cyber security and rightly being recognised for their pioneering work. We have some of the best minds in the world working in the field and, thanks to this scheme, they can now help in shaping our National Cyber Security Strategy and developing the talent and services of tomorrow.”

Chris Ensor, deputy director for cyber security skills and growth at the National Cyber Security Centre, commented: “The UK boasts world-class universities carrying out cutting-edge research into all areas of cyber security. It’s fantastic to see three more universities recognised as Academic Centres of Excellence and I’m especially pleased that we now have centres in all of the home nations. The National Cyber Security Centre looks forward to collaborating with these institutions to make the UK the safest place to live and work online.”

Pete Burnap, Professor of Data Science and Cyber Security and director of the Airbus Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Analytics at Cardiff University, observed: “We’re delighted to receive this recognition as it evidences our long track record of research excellence in cyber security. Our core identity is the interdisciplinary fusion of Artificial Intelligence and cyber security, a concept we call ‘Cyber Security Analytics’. Artificial Intelligence is at the heart of the UK Government’s industrial strategy and our aim is to innovate with it to improve automated cyber threat intelligence and support decision-making and policy responses that renders the UK more secure for individuals, business and the Government.”

Professor Burnap added: “We’re proud to be the first Welsh university to be recognised by the National Cyber Security Centre for our cyber research capability, and we hope to build on the impressive expertise that already exists across the region between academia, Government and business.”

Socio-technical cyber security research

Dr Jose M Such, senior lecturer in the Department of Informatics at King’s College London, outlined: “We’re thrilled to be recognised for the high-quality socio-technical cyber security research we conduct here at King’s College London. This recognition acknowledges the critical and diverse mass of researchers working on this area at King’s from different, but complementary angles and points of view. Our research focuses on three main research themes and their interrelationship: the use of Artificial Intelligence for cyber security together with the cyber security of Artificial Intelligence itself, the theoretical aspects of cyber security like verification and testing and the socio-political and strategic aspects of cyber security.”

Shujun Li, Professor of Cyber Security and director of the Kent Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Cyber Security at the University of Kent, stated: “We’re excited to be granted Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research status as an acknowledgement of the excellent research in cyber security at the University of Kent. Our research is truly interdisciplinary, drawing on the expertise of colleagues from computer science and engineering as well as wider disciplines such as psychology, law, business and sociology. Our ambition is to have one of the largest and most productive cyber security research centres in the UK by 2022, as well as helping to grow the next generation cyber security researchers.”

*The Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research programme is supported by the Government’s £1.9 billion National Cyber Security Strategy 2016-2021

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