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Wales awarded first cyber security centre of excellence

Cardiff University has been recognised as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre.

Cardiff University has joined a prestigious list of academic institutions helping to make the UK the safest place to live and work online.

The University has been named as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), becoming the first institution in Wales to be given this status.

The award is in recognition of the internationally excellent research developed at the University over a number of years, and will allow academics to feed directly into the UK Government’s strategy of making the country more resilient to cyber-attacks.

Furthermore, as a Centre of Excellence the University will nurture more young talent and foster a pipeline of the next generation of cyber security professionals.

Launched in 2016, the NCSC was set up as part of GCHQ to help protect the UK’s critical services from cyber-attacks, manage major incidents, and improve the underlying security of the UK Internet through technological improvement and advice to citizens and organisations.

Since then it has prevented thousands of attacks, provided vital support for the UK’s Armed Forces and managed hundreds of incidents.

Cardiff joins a prestigious list of academic institutions helping to support the NCSC’s mission, including the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and University College London.

As part of the scheme, Cardiff University will specifically focus on how artificial intelligence can be used to monitor, identify and ultimately tackle cyber-attacks.

Prof. Pete Burnap, principal investigator of the Centre of Excellence and professor of Data Science & Cybersecurity in the School of Computer Science and Informatics, said, “We are delighted to receive this recognition as it evidences our long track-record of research excellence in cyber security.

“Our core identity is the interdisciplinary fusion of artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, a concept we call Cyber Security Analytics. AI is at the heart of the UK government’s industrial strategy and our aim is to innovate with AI to improve automated cyber threat intelligence and support decision making and policy responses to make the UK more secure for individuals, business and the government.

“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.”

Cardiff University has a proven track-record of research excellence in cyber security and already has close links with government and industry.

The Airbus Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Analytics was recently launched at Cardiff University to further research into the link-up between artificial intelligence and cyber security, and is the first centre of its kind in Europe. Research in the centre aims to protect corporate IT networks, intellectual property, and critical national infrastructure.

Vice-chancellor professor Colin Riordan said, “The recognition afforded by the National Cyber Security Centre is validation of the University’s world-leading expertise in this area, and further demonstrates the real-world impact that our research has on the UK as a whole.

“At a time when threats to our critical infrastructure have never been greater, it’s particularly encouraging to see Cardiff University research contributing to efforts to detect and deter cyber-attacks.”

Economy secretary, Ken Skates said, “As cyber security threats become more prevalent and sophisticated, enabling the rapid development of innovative new products and services to counter them has never been more important.

“The Welsh Government is working hard to support the growth of cyber security businesses and products. With partners such as Cardiff University and NCSC we want to create the right environment for businesses to grow and thrive, so they can develop the innovative cyber products and services we need to tackle the security challenges ahead.

“I am delighted that Cardiff University’s excellent research work in this area has been formally recognised with this Award. It is a great boost for the sector in Wales and I look forward to us building on this success in the months and years ahead.”

Minister for digital, Margot James said, “These universities are doing fantastic research in cyber security and they are rightly being recognised for their pioneering work.

“We have some of the best minds in the world working in the field and thanks to this scheme they can now help shape our National Cyber Security Strategy and develop the talent and services of tomorrow.”

Secretary of state for Wales, Alun Cairns added, “Cardiff University’s recognition as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research not only cements Wales’ position as a world class provider of higher education but also highlights Wales’ ambition to lead the way in training cyber specialists.

“As the importance of cyber security continues to grow, it is great to see that Wales will play such a vital role in developing the skills and building the capability needed to fight cyber-attacks whenever and wherever they occur.”


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