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University of Surrey opens cybersecurity centre to boost security research

Focusing on privacy, data protection, secure communications and human-centric technology
Fri Jul 04 2014, 10:04
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THE UNIVERSITY OF SURREY has opened a cyber security research centre.

Dubbed the Surrey Centre for Cyber Security (SCCS), the facility will be a place for "world-class research in technical and interdisciplinary areas of cyber and information security".

Speaking with the head of the centre, Steve Schneider, in an interview on Thursday, we learned that the work being undertaken will include technical security research on privacy, data protection and secure communications.

Schneider said that one of the main focuses for the research will be on human centric technology, that is, recognising that security isn't just a technical problem, and we have to be aware of the human element.

"We have to be realistic," Schneider said. "People behave in certain ways and can't blame people for not remembering passwords.

"We need to design systems that allow for how people are as opposed to telling them what to do, [bringing] relationships between human elements and technical solutions; there's no point saying we need to do [something] if it's not possible."

The centre has been in active development since the beginning of the year. Schneider said it's come at a significant time as the University's focus on security has been building up for much longer.

The centre will be run primarily by academic staff conducting work at the research level, such as lecturers, professors and research academics as well as a number of supervised Phd students.

Specific areas of focus include secure communications, looking at internet communications and security architectures and how passwords are used. But the research undertaken at the university will be much wider reaching than the campus itself and looks to provide research for international projects.

Schneider said the research done at the centre is intertwined what is going on in the real world so things can be taken up quickly and experimented with to then get real world feedback.

"The overall goal of the centre is to apply our research out in the real world," added Schneider. "[We] aim to engage with companies and private and public sector and governments to be able to match the research we are doing to their particular problems."

For example, an ongoing research project the SCCS centre is looking into on an international scale is secure electronic voting. The centre is working with a company in Australia.

"A vote is supposed to be private, unlike online banking for example; it's supposed to be confidential," Schneider said. "[We] still want to be confident a system is providing integrity as there are many potential difficulties in voting systems."

He said the work the university is conducting with the Australian company is a new secure voting system that guarantees your vote has been submitted privately. µ


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