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R&D investments spearhead push to block cyber security attacks

A pioneering programme of research and development to prevent the prevalence of damaging cyber security attacks is moving ahead at pace with the announcement of two new funding awards.

The Digital Security by Design (DSbD) challenge led by UK Research and Innovation, has the objective to prevent hackers from remotely taking control of digital systems such as:

  • autonomous cars
  • personal devices
  • smart home security systems
  • cyber attacks and data breaches across the online world.

This means people, business, and the nation’s critical infrastructure will be better protected.

Latest awards

The latest awards made by the challenge are:

Demonstrator to work with Arm’s technology

£5.8 million has been awarded to a consortium led by global technology platform company, THG Holdings plc (THG), working with The University of Manchester and the University of Oxford.

The partnership will develop a crucial demonstration element to work with, leading technology firm, Arm’s platform prototype, ‘Morello’ project, that was previously awarded UKRI funding.

This demonstrator will test the benefits of DSbD technology, to improve the security of e-commerce and enable the increased productivity and development of future world-leading services and products.

£2.8 million of the funding will be invested by THG into recruitment and specialist equipment for the research, with the remainder distributed to the partner universities.

Bridging the gap between security and society

A new £3.5 million research collaboration at the University of Bath called DiScriBe has also been funded. This research hub will focus on the social science side of digital security, bridging the gap between security engineering challenges and the businesses and people who will implement them.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has provided £1.2 million, with the remaining £2.3 million funded from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s Digital Security by Design challenge.

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said:

These projects are great examples of our world-class universities working with leading UK businesses to develop cutting-edge cyber security products to keep people safe online.

We are making extra funding available to make sure we continue developing innovative cyber solutions, give consumers and industry confidence and boost our burgeoning digital economy.

Digital Security by Design Challenge Director, Professor John Goodacre said:

The significance of these two important awards is the momentum they will provide to the whole programme of work planned.

The Soteria project led by THG takes a leader’s position in this undertaking and will provide a crucial demonstration of the security benefits DSbD Technology can bring to the increasingly critical e-commerce industry.

ESRC Executive Chair Professor Jennifer Rubin said:

The DiScriBe Hub+ award will enable advancement of digital security through a combined approach that includes understanding and addressing the economic and social factors that can otherwise frustrate technical solutions.

By ensuring that economic and social researchers and engineers can work closely together, we will be able to support researchers and businesses in overcoming the data theft and cyber-attacks that are a significant global risk.

A spokesperson for THG said:

It is an honour to have secured this significant grant and to be collaborating with leading universities on this important project.

We are looking forward to THG’s world-class technical and research teams applying their findings to the cutting edge of UK and global digital security.

Digital security for our brands, customers and clients is at the heart of what we do, and we are leading the way in pioneering new ideas and technology within this space.

The outcome of this project will ultimately benefit online security, and it is hugely exciting to be part of such a ground-breaking initiative.”

Professor Adam Joinson from the University of Bath, said:

Addressing the cybersecurity challenges we face now – as well as anticipating those we might face in the future – is a major undertaking that needs deep engagement and collaboration between social scientists and technical experts.

This is a ground-breaking initiative that will be instrumental in facilitating this, as well as conducting our own fundamental research on the adoption of new secure hardware.

We will also be commissioning over £1 million of social science research to support the wider digital security by design challenge and working closely with industrial partners to ensure that digital security by design works with people, as well as at a technical level.

Further information

The Soteria project

£5.8 million was awarded to THG, and the Universities of Manchester and Oxford.

The project is a cyber security demonstrator for the e-commerce industrial market.

It will seek to understand how future Arm hardware, as represented by the Morello platform, could improve the security of its business and enable the development of new cyber security services and products.

The project has the potential to improve the security of a large share of the software that a society we have come to rely upon.

The benefits of Soteria are directly focused on reducing the impact of security breaches and attacks, and the costs required to secure digital businesses and services.

The societal impacts are improved public perception to the benefits of technology, and less disruption to the daily activities of individuals in society due to security incidents, and service outages across public, government, and paid for digital services.

DiScriBe Hub+ at the University of Bath

By bringing a social science perspective, the DiScriBe Hub+ will help to unleash the transformational potential that the hardware innovations within Digital Security by Design makes possible.

By combining world-leading research with challenge fellows from across the social sciences, expert working groups, innovative approaches to networking and to industry-facing commissioning, the DiScriBe Hub+ will not only address the challenges faced by the ISCF Digital Security by Design initiative, but will fundamentally reshape the ways in which social sciences and STEM disciplines work together to address the challenges of digital security by design in the 21st Century.

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