The government is ploughing £3.8m into the creation of a cyber security research institute, which will work alongside GCHQ to encourage closer co-operation between business and academia in the fight against online threats.
The Research Institute in the Science of Cyber Security (RISCC) will bring together social scientists, mathematicians and computer scientists from seven UK universities to tackle some of the toughest cyber security challenges, its backers claimed.
“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,” said Francis Maude, Cabinet Office minister.
The Institute has been established by GCHQ, in partnership with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. But it will exist as a virtual organisation, nominally housed at University College London.
Angela Sasse, a professor of information security at UCL has been appointed as the Institute's director.
“This is an opportunity to work closely with colleagues from different scientific disciplines to tackle the technical, social and psychological challenges that effective cyber security presents,” she said.
Sasse has a background in researching the usability of security systems, with a focus on authentication mechanisms, access control and user attitudes.
The RISCC has been awarded funding for three and a half years, and is one of the central tenets of the government's Nation Cyber Security Strategy, which aims to make the UK one of the most secure places in the world to conduct online business.
The move comes as GCHQ has begun to take a more active role in securing British IT infrastructure. Earlier this month, the snooping centre announced it would begin a reach-out programme to encourage UK firms to adopt the best security practices.
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