Oxford Embraces Cyber Security
Posted: 27th March 2012
We exist in a data-centric world: we all depend on secure and reliable networks and information
systems in our everyday lives – from using social networks, buying goods and services online.
Security considerations permeate personal, corporate, military, governmental, and national
infrastructure systems and networks. Cyber attacks on any of these can lead to significant
disruption. Oxford University has today launched an interdisciplinary Cyber Security Centre to
make the internet, and the physical world a safer place.
A launch event was held at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum on 26th March 2012, and was attended
by eminent security experts from government, industry and academia. Speakers included
James Quinault, Director of the Cyber Security and Information Assurance, at the Cabinet Office; and
Martin Sadler, Director, Cloud Security, HP Labs, along with Sadie Creese from the University's Department of Computer Science.
The increased use of internet-based applications, the rise in computer-based crime, together with the
impact of social media applications, has amplified and changed the nature of security risks. There are
many potential openings for a cyber-attacker. Endless technical, logical or human factors can create
holes for them. Security is only as strong as the weakest link -- and there are many links with many
different shapes. The challenge to understand cyber risk and deliver effective and accessible security
becomes harder as technology continues to rapidly evolve, our systems are becoming ever complex,
the volume of data being instrumented and consumed grows exponentially, and we are increasingly
dependent upon such information and communications infrastructures. Cyber security is a globally
important problem requiring top-class and joined-up thinking spanning many disciplines.
The Oxford Cyber Security Centre is the new home to cutting-edge research designed to tackle the
growing threats posed by cyber terrorism and cyber crime, and to safeguard the trustworthiness of
electronically-stored information. In addition to being a springboard for new research, is an umbrella for
current research activity worth in excess of £5m, supported close involvement of over 12 permanent
academic staff, and in excess of 25 research staff, 18 doctoral students.
Professor Sadie Creese, Director of the Cyber Security Centre explained, “Oxford is striving to have a
positive impact on society and the economy. Helping to create a more secure digital environment will
be a wonderful way of doing this. Security requires a positive -- and to a large extent open --
collaboration between industry, government agencies and universities. That is what we aim to achieve.”
Oxford University has many specialists in this area with relevant experience. The new Centre will
coordinate these efforts for the first time, and enable Oxford to address a wider range of cyber security
threats. Felix Reed-Tsochas of the Saïd Business School said, "The new Cyber Security Centre
provides an extremely exciting opportunity to bring Oxford's tremendous strengths in computer science
and highly interdisciplinary research to bear on critical real-world problems."
Cyber security obviously draws heavily on Computer Science research, but reaches far beyond that.
Oxford is therefore uniquely placed to be a centre of excellence in cyber security. Not only does it have
the all-round strength of a world-leading university, but it has institutions such as the Saïd Business
School, the Oxford Internet Institute, the Blavatnik School of Government, the Oxford e-Research
Centre, and Oxford University Computing Services which are all practically-based units in areas directly
relevant to cyber security.
The Centre is therefore in an excellent position to drive major developments in the theory and practice
of cyber security and help in the creation of a safe, secure and prosperous cyberspace through
internationally leading research and educational programmes. The Cyber Security Centre is dedicated
to the essential task of being able to to anticipate, deter, detect, resist and tolerate attacks, understand
and predict cyber risks, and respond and recover effectively at all levels, whether individual, enterprise,
national or across international markets.
Professor Bill Roscoe, Head of the Computer Science Department, commented “the great thing about
planning anything inter-disciplinary at Oxford is its all round strength in depth. That makes it the perfect
place for engaging in cyber security research and setting up top-class educational programs for
managers and engineers from government and business. Both the University’s Saïd
Business School and the Department of Computer Science are experienced in the art of in-service, part-time
education. That and the breadth of expertise in security at Oxford will provide the perfect platform
for us to create a range of educational offerings for practitioners and those who manage them.”