3 April 2017 13:23

Lancaster University’s world-class work to make the internet a safer place has been recognised by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

Artificially intelligent tools that are helping police tackle online child sexual abuse, improving the security and resilience of critical national infrastructure and designing resilient networked systems are just some of the areas where Lancaster researchers excel.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, the Rt Hon. Ben Gummer MP has announced that Lancaster University has been recognised by the NCSC (part of GCHQ) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research.

Lancaster is the only recognised Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research in North West England, and one of 14 across the whole of the UK.

Ben Gummer, Minister for the Cabinet Office & Paymaster General, said:

“This Government is determined to make the UK the safest place in the world to live, work and do business online.

“That is why we need truly ground-breaking research to stay one step ahead of the growing threat of cyber attacks.

“By engaging with business, industry and academia, we will ensure that we develop the skills and research we need to tackle this growing threat to the UK.”

Chris Ensor, Deputy Director for Cyber Security Skills and Growth at the NCSC, said:

“It’s fantastic to see so many leading universities committed to trailblazing improvements to the UK’s cyber security research, and it is particularly good to see Scotland represented for the first time.

“At the NCSC, we are absolutely committed to maintaining and improving our already strong reputation as a global leader in cutting edge research, and look forward to collaborating with these establishments to make the UK the safest place to live and work online.

“These universities conduct world class cyber security research and this initiative will improve the way academics, government and business work together – benefiting the whole of the country.”

This recognition is a renewal of previous recognition for Lancaster University’s work in the cyber security field by the national body.

Lancaster University’s cyber security research forms part of the work of the Security Lancaster Institute, which provides world-class research and training on issues relating to the safety and security of UK society.

The Institute’s work is inter-disciplinary and crucially puts the person at the heart of security decisions – taking into account human factors, as well as technology.

Professor Awais Rashid, Director of Security Lancaster, said: “Cyber crime is a large and growing threat to modern society. Whether it is theft of personal data, attacks against critical infrastructure or crimes such as online fraud and sharing of abuse images of children, cyber crime affects us all.

“This recognition demonstrates the importance and significance of the work undertaken here at Lancaster to protect the people and the economy of the UK.”

Lancaster experts work across a wide variety of sectors to help businesses, other organisations and individuals gain an understanding of cyber threats, how to counter them, embed cyber security practices and establish a cyber security culture to help support and protect the UK economy.

Recent Lancaster cyber security work as part of the international research project iCOP resulted in a new online tool designed to spot new child sexual abuse media online.

Other recent research has highlighted vulnerabilities in online passwords and in particular how easy it is for criminals to guess people’s passwords when they possess information on their targets.

Lancaster researchers have also worked with the NCSC to help develop their Industrial Control Systems lab.

In addition, Lancaster is at the forefront of helping the UK meet the skills gap in the cyber security industry. The university delivers an MSc in Cyber Security that is fully certified by Government. It is also leading a major international research project to create a ‘Body of Knowledge’ that will provide the foundations for future teaching and training in the field.