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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/J006238/1
Title: Centre for Secure Information Technologies - Tranche 2 Proposal
Principal Investigator: McCanny, Professor Sir JV
Other Investigators:
Miller, Dr P Sezer, Professor S Cid, Professor C
O'Neill, Professor M Blyth, Professor A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Electronics, Elec Eng & Comp Sci
Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 March 2012 Ends: 31 March 2015 Value (£): 2,110,179
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Image & Vision Computing Information & Knowledge Mgmt
Mobile Computing Networks & Distributed Systems
System on Chip
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Electronics Retail
Communications Financial Services
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
13 Jun 2011 CSIT IKC Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The Internet (Cyber space) is a source of infinite knowledge, an evolving artefact unconstrained by national borders, law, regulations or languages and a community with commercial, political and criminal interests. The Internet has 2 billion Internet users, there are 234 million web sites and there are 250 billion emails sent every day.

It is hard to say exactly what the internet will become, but we can see a world where the Internet will be used in assisted living; allowing computers to drive our cars and monitoring and managing our health. The Internet will almost certainly also become a personal assistant; scheduling our day, advising us when we should eat, when we should sleep and what we should do. One thing we can be sure of is that the complexity and capability of the Internet continues to explode exponentially and as it does securing; information, infrastructure and citizen will need equally advanced and intelligent capability.

Even though the Internet is core to a functioning society, Cyber space is not protected and cyber threats have evolved into global criminal enterprises. In February 2011 the UK Cabinet Office announced that cybercrime cost the UK £27Billion per annum.

The risks associated with the Internet extend from individuals to nations. An unprotected PC can be infected by malicious software (malware) within minutes of being connected to the Internet, and last year the Stuxnet virus attack on an Iranian power plant showed that the Internet is being used by nation states for Cyber war. Internet Security is currently however either a privilege for those who are willing to pay for security tools and services, or for those with the engineering skills to understand the technology and threat.

What should be done?

The research at CSIT has a vision that Internet Security should be available for all. As information is travelling through the network, it should be cleansed and filtered of malware, and criminal activity policed. An analogy would lie wth the provision of water as a utility. We trust that when we turn on a tap, the water we drink is safe and pure, we do not have filters at the tap. As we turn on the Internet in our homes we should also be confident that the mechanism to deliver the Internet in itself cleanses the content. At the heart of CSIT is the perennial challenge of making all of the IT solutions, of today and tomorrow, secure. CSIT is becoming a world-class Research and Innovation centre, coupling major research breakthroughs in Secure Information Technology with exciting developments in innovation and commercialisation.

When electronic sensor devices and CCTV cameras are networked and combined with computer processing, IT then becomes a power enabling tool in the field of physical infrastructure protection, which includes fire monitoring, asset tracking and intrusion detection. Thus while IT security itself is often a matter of defending against automated attack by viral programs, IT for asset protection is a tool to assist the human operator. The IT systems used for infrastructure systems must themselves be secure not least because personal biometric data is increasingly being rolled out as a part of the solution.

The driving goal for CSIT is to strategically position U.K. industry at the forefront of the field of secure IT because this field is a critical, emerging and rapidly growing sector with its wider benefits for the safety and security of society. Embedded within Queen's University, with its very successful record of industrial collaboration and spin-out company formation, CSIT therefore lends itself well to a strong business and academic partnership, creating a continuous flow of knowledge transfer opportunities, with realizable shorter term milestones for transfer of the research, coupled with exciting opportunities for major breakthroughs and ensuring commercial opportunities for UK industry.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.qub.ac.uk