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Cyber security centre of excellence to open at Cardiff University

Cardiff University and Airbus have launched the first centre of its kind in Europe to tackle cyber attacks on critical infrastructure

The Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Analytics will be located at Cardiff University’s School of Computer Science and Informatics and will focus on providing world-leading research into cyber security.

Together with experts from Airbus, researchers will carry out studies into machine learning, data analytics and artificial intelligence for cyber attack detection. This research will aim to protect corporate IT networks, intellectual property and critical national infrastructure.

The centre will also develop industry-relevant academic programmes in cyber security at the university, in an attempt to fill the skills gap in the field of cyber security.

The global shortage of cyber security professional appears to be worsening, with 1.8 million information security-related roles expected to remain unfilled worldwide by 2022, according to the latest Global Information Security Workforce Study by (ISC)2.

The centre is part of an agreement between the university and Airbus that includes knowledge sharing between the two parties, with the potential for secondments and industrial placements to be made available for researchers and students.

Pete Burnap, director of the new centre, said: “Cyber security analytics is about improving our resilience to cyber attacks through data modelling to detect and block malicious behaviour before it causes its full impact, and also about understanding what motivates the behaviour, what its likely impact will be, and how to communicate security alerts among decision and policy-makers.”

The centre is interdisciplinary by design, and will draw together expertise in cyber security from across the whole university, said Burnap.

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Kevin Jones, head of cyber security innovation at Airbus, said: “Collaborating with leading universities such as Cardiff to research and develop sophisticated machine learning and data analytics for attack detection is a key approach in the future protection of critical systems. 

“The launch of the Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Analytics is an enabler for the rapid transfer of research into operational activities and ensures that researchers are able to access the latest techniques and data, and are supported by Airbus experts.”

Cardiff University has also recently been awarded almost £2m in external funding from a range of sources, including UK research councils, industry and government, to launch major new programmes over the next three years to develop cutting-edge machine learning algorithms to detect cyber threats targeting various internet-enabled environments, including online social media to control systems in critical national infrastructure.

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  • CNI industry needs secure products, from secure suppliers, with secure development lifecycles, say CNI experts.
  • The interconnected nature of critical national infrastructure means the impact of the risk and the cost of a cyber attack grows exponentially every day.
  • The UK needs to develop awareness of the vulnerability of industrial control systems to cyber attack and technology-specific security systems, says researcher.

Together, Cardiff University and Airbus have already received more than £1m of funding for cyber security, including studying risks to the systems underpinning critical national infrastructure. This was part-funded by the Endeavour programme backed by Airbus and the Welsh government.

At CyberUK in Liverpool in March 2017, Conrad Prince, cyber security ambassador at the UK Department for International Trade, said the government was planning a range of interventions to grow the domestic cyber security industry.

These include setting up 13 centres of academic excellence, funding doctorates, certifying masters degrees, setting up research institutes, and working with UK universities to commercialise some of the leading academic research in cyber security by helping to fund the development of concept demonstrators to turn more of those ideas into marketable products.

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