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University of Edinburgh to become Centre of Excellence for UK cyber security research

by Brian Sims

The University of Edinburgh has become a Government-approved Centre of Excellence for cyber security research in the UK. Ben Gummer, Minister for the Cabinet Office, has praised the university’s efforts in becoming the first such centre in Scotland to gain the accolade, in turn making it one of the leading establishments in this growing field of work. With National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)-approved research moving into Scotland for the very first time at the University of Edinburgh, Gummer gave an address to students on the campus and spoke to leading academics about their work.

Chosen from more than 20 applicants from across the UK, the 14 selected universities are the University of Birmingham, the University of Bristol, the University of Cambridge, Lancaster University, Imperial College London, Royal Holloway University of London, University College London, Newcastle University, the University of Oxford, Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Southampton, the University of Surrey, the University of Warwick and the University of Edinburgh.

As announced last year in the Government’s National Cyber Security Strategy, academic Centres of Excellence will specialise in developing the latest cyber security techniques and contribute towards the UK’s increased knowledge and capability in this specialist field. All are now recognised by the NCSC – which was launched back in February – as meeting the tough minimum standards required, including:

*a commitment from each university’s leadership team to support and invest in the university’s cyber security research capacity and capability

*a critical mass of academic staff engaged in leading-edge cyber security research

*a proven track record of publishing high-impact cyber security research in leading academic journals and conferences

*sustained funding from a variety of sources to ensure the continuing financial viability of the research team’s activities

Remaining one step ahead of the threat

“This Government is determined to make the UK the safest place in the world in which to live, work and do business online,” asserted Gummer. “That’s why we need truly groundbreaking research to stay one step ahead of the growing threat of cyber attacks. By engaging with business, industry and academia, we’ll ensure that we develop the skills and research we need to tackle this growing threat to the UK.”

The NCSC is looking forward to working with these 14 universities over the next five years to continue to grow UK academia’s capacity and capability in cyber security research and to cement its position as an international leader in this arena. The universities involved will enjoy Centre of Excellence status for five years from June this year before assessments are carried out again.

Chris Ensor, deputy director for cyber security skills and growth at the NCSC, added: “It’s fantastic to see so many leading universities committed to trailblazing improvements to the UK’s cyber security research, and it’s particularly good to see Scotland represented for the first time. At the NCSC, we’re absolutely committed to maintaining and improving our already strong reputation as a global leader in cutting-edge research, and very much look forward to collaborating with these establishments to make the UK the safest place in which to live and work online. These universities conduct world-class cyber security research, and this initiative will improve the way in which academics, Government and business work together, subsequently benefiting the whole of the country.”

Professor David Aspinall from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics explained: “Cyber security and privacy is now an essential aspect of modern life which impacts the technology we see and use, as well as the ‘behind the scenes’ technology we rely upon that supports both physical and virtual infrastructures. Our recognition as a Centre of Excellence will bring fresh impetus to our research in helping make the digital world safer for everyone.”

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