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Universities focus cyber research on infrastructure and healthcare

16/01/19

Mark Say Managing Editor

Cyber research in UK academia is concentrating heavily on critical infrastructure and the healthcare sector, according to a review of current and past projects.

Lock on computer keyboard

Crossword Cybersecurity has carried a global survey to build a database looking at the focus of relevant research in universities.

It said that in the UK about £8.3 million has been invested in projects looking at the cyber elements of infrastructure security, at universities including Oxford, Glasgow, Surrey, De Montfort, Lancaster, Brighton and University and Imperial Colleges London.

A significant £5.6 million has gone to work on security for healthcare, with the universities involved being Newcastle, Lancaster, Queen’s Belfast, Royal Holloway, University College London, York, Exeter, Middlesex and Northumbria.

The four UK projects with the greatest funding are in safe robotics, big data security, cyber crime and quantum technology for secure communications. The research also revealed a sharp fall in spending on security in big data projects.

On a global scale, a handful of trends emerged in comparing the periods 2008-13 and 2013-18. The growth in projects focused on cyber security of physical systems has been one of the strongest developments, accompanied by a sharp increase in those dealing with the internet of things (IoT).

Along with this, there has been a big rise in the number of projects related to privacy and in cryptography, although the latter comes from a low base.

Paramount importance

Crossword’s chief executive officer Tom Ilube said: “Our research shows that there has been an influx of cyber physical systems and IoT devices involved in the management of critical infrastructure (e.g. power/ electricity grids, transport, manufacturing, telecommunications, financial services and healthcare). A focus on securing these systems and the data which they produce is therefore of paramount importance.

“On the macro level, ensuring that these systems are tamper-proof constitutes an issue of national security; whilst on the micro level, securing these systems is essential to ensuring the privacy of each individual citizen.”

Image from iStock, Dra Schwartz

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