Cyber security research centre

A £30m research centre aimed at becoming the global leader in cyber security technology has been launched by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).



The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT), based at Queen’s University Belfast, will bring together research in complementary fields including data encryption, network security systems and intelligent video analysis.



Using its expertise in these areas, CSIT said it intends to use a ‘converged security’ approach to improve the public’s physical security while also protecting data systems to safeguard private information within network systems.


Prof John McCanny, principal investigator at CSIT, said: ‘Our starting points are mission-driven projects for which we have identified end goals. CSIT also has a strong entrepreneurial ethos. We’re confident that we’ll be able to fast track the development of marketable applications of our technologies to the benefit of UK industry and the wider economy.’


One of the projects the centre is working on is a new type of content-processor technology that is able to undertake real-time analysis of internet traffic to detect and prevent threatening online behaviour.


This capability will be provided by new processors that will have the capacity to analyse data between 100 and 10,000 times faster than current hardware and software-based content processing systems.


CSIT is in the process of liaising with a range of crime and behavioural experts to help develop a prototype system that it expects to be ready within the next three years.


Project leader, Dr Sakir Sezer, said: ‘Because conventional processor technology can only deal with information character by character, it’s far too slow to analyse internet traffic in real time. We’re developing parallel processors that can be scaled to process up to 32 characters (256 bit) at once, making real-time inspection of huge data volumes possible for the first time.


‘Network providers will be able to install and use this technology to provide much better protection for internet users, as well as advanced user experience and efficient utilisation/management of network resources.’


CSIT is one of the first Innovation and Knowledge Centres (IKCs) to be launched in the UK and is jointly funded by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and EPSRC.