GCHQ sets up new institute to counter cyber attacks in the UK

British intelligence agency GCHQ is to establish a research institute to help counter the growing threat of cyber attacks on the UK.

The UK’s first academic research institute studying the science of cyber security will provide information to help government, businesses and individuals protect themselves from hacking, viruses and other attacks over the internet.

The institute, funded for three-and-a-half years by a £3.8m government grant, will bring together academics from seven universities, including social scientists, mathematicians and computer scientists, to encourage them to collaborate more closely.

Francis Maude, minister for cyber security, said in a statement: ‘The UK is one of the most secure places in the world to do business — already eight per cent of our GDP is generated from the cyber world and that trend is set to grow. 

‘But we are not complacent. Through the National Cyber Security Programme we are putting serious investment into the best UK expertise to lead thought in the science of cyber.

‘The UK’s first academic research institute will strengthen capability in a strategically important area, keeping the UK at the forefront of international research in the field.’

The universities taking part were selected through a competition that required them to develop research programmes that would enable people to address two questions relating to the security of an organisation and making better security decisions.

The winning teams were:

  • University College London (UCL), where the institute will be based, working with University of Aberdeen;
  • Imperial College, working with Queen Mary College and Royal Holloway, University of London;
  • Royal Holloway, University of London; and
  • Newcastle University, working with Northumbria University.

The institute is being established in partnership with the Research Councils’ Global Uncertainties Programme (RCUK) led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).