Building a resilient cyber secure future

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The digital age is delivering undreamt-of possibilities but it also brings nightmarish threats in the sinister shape of cybercrime.

One of the world’s least-welcome growth industries, cybercrime costs the global economy an estimated $2.9 million per minute.

The resulting challenges are many, big and varied:

  • safeguarding personal, business and government data from theft
  • protecting computer networks against intrusion
  • keeping mobiles, tablets and other devices clean of malware
  • defending vital digitally-enabled infrastructure against hostile attack.

The meteoric rise of the UK’s Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC) for cyber security, The CSIT  at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) has seen it develop into both a partner of choice for big-name multinationals and a dynamic motor of local growth.

With core funding from EPSRC (£9 million), Innovate UK (£5 million) and Invest Northern Ireland (£10 million), it has forged its reputation by devising solutions to increasingly serious and sophisticated cybercrime threats and by using digital technologies to boost the safety and security of individuals and organisations worldwide.

Its focus is on leading-edge research that can translate rapidly into market-relevant, market-ready products and services, working shoulder-to-shoulder with industry has turned this aspiration into reality.

“Over the last 20 years, effective cybersecurity has become one of society’s critical needs,” says Professor Máire O’Neill, CSIT’s Principal Investigator.

“Here at QUB we recognised we had the skills and ambition to tackle this need head-on and, in doing so, boost economic renewal in Belfast and Northern Ireland.”

CSIT is home to a 90-strong team of industry-experienced engineers, electronic and computational researchers, business development specialists and passionately motivated postgraduates.

An impressive roster of business members such as Thales, Allstate and BAE Systems help shape its research strategy. With also a close collaboration with First Derivatives, Seagate, Nvidia and other IT giants, and with leading global cybersecurity institutes, it adds an extra dimension to its expansive vision and worldwide reach.

The result has been a stream of cutting-edge cybersecurity advances tuned to real-world use in sectors from finance to defence, plus the extensive harnessing of CSIT as an authoritative source of input by government and others. CSIT is, for instance, a delivery partner for the London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement, providing mentoring to cybersecurity start-ups across the UK to help them break into domestic and world markets.

“None of this would have been possible without the substantial support received from EPSRC and Innovate UK,” notes Dr Godfrey Gaston, Director of CSIT.

“The core IKC funding, now stretching to 2021, sent out a big signal to industry that we’re a serious player.”