The government has recognised the University of Kent, King’s College London, and Cardiff University as Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research, taking the total count of such universities to seventeen.
The recognition will enable the universities to apply for funding to develop cutting-edge research in cyber security, and to attend annual conferences and workshops. By honouring such universities, the government aims to ensure that businesses, the academia, and the government can work together to enhance the UK's cyber security capabilities and to eradicate technical gaps.
"The scheme aims to create a better understanding of the strength of the UK’s academic capability in cyber security and identify areas where there are research opportunities or technical gaps. It makes collaboration between academia, business and government easier, and helps make sure cutting-edge research is turned into practical products and services. This includes developing tools to tackle mass marketing fraud online and better understand cyber criminals," the government said.
Universities focussing more on AI for cyber security
While researchers at King's College London focus on the use of AI for cyber security, the cyber security of AI itself, the theoretical aspects of cyber security like verification and testing, and the socio-political and strategic aspects of cyber security, researchers at Cardiff University focus on the interdisciplinary fusion of artificial intelligence and cybersecurity and aim to innovate with AI to improve automated cyber threat intelligence and support decision making and policy responses.
"We are proud to be the first Welsh university to be recognised by NCSC for our cyber research capability, and we hope to build on the impressive expertise that already exists across the region between academia, government and business," said Professor Pete Burnap, Professor of Data Science & Cybersecurity, and Director of the Airbus Centre of Excellence in Cybersecurity Analytics at Cardiff University.
According to Shujun Li, Professor of Cyber Security and Director of the Kent Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Cyber Security (KirCCS) at the University of Kent, the University is aiming at creating a large cyber security research centre in the UK by 2022 and nurturing young cyber security researchers for the future.
Role of academia in cyber security gets a boost
In December last year, the government launched an interim cyber security science and technology strategy which, it said, will help it identify technology developments that will have most impact on cyber security, develop the government’s policy response and the expertise base in government, academia, and industry, and assess whether the government is sufficiently responding to cyber security science and technology developments.
The interim strategy will ultimately pave the way for the government's ambitious Cyber Security Science and Technology Strategy, but before that, it will help the government ensure that there will be a single authoritative voice that will assess the sufficiency of the UK's national cyber capability and identify significant developments that require a policy response.
At the same time, the interim strategy will help the government put in place the production of a Research and Development Strategy and to establish a framework to enable the publication of NCSC cyber security horizon scanning.
The Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACE-CSR) recognition, which Universities have to earn to qualify for government funding for cyber security research, is supported by the government’s £1.9 billion five-year National Cyber Security Strategy which was launched in 2016.