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Oxford recognised by GCHQ as leader in cyber security


It was announced today (2 April 2012) by GCHQ, one of the three UK intelligence agencies, that Oxford University has been recognised as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research. The award recognises the University’s long track record of excellence in this area of research and aims to ensure that work done at Oxford helps to protect the UK from cyber attack as well as opening up new business and research opportunities.
Oxford is one of the first eight UK universities conducting world class research in the field of cyber security to be awarded ‘Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research’ status by GCHQ in partnership with the Research Councils’ Global Uncertainties Programme (RCUK) and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).
The Centres of Excellence will benefit the UK by enhancing the UK’s cyber knowledge base through original research, providing top quality graduates in the field of cyber security, supporting GCHQ’s cyber defence mission, and driving up the level of innovation.
‘As we increasingly live our lives online, doing everything from banking to sharing work files or family photos, cyber security affects just about everyone,’ said Dr Andrew Martin of Oxford University’s Department of Computer Science, who led the Oxford bid. ‘It raises concerns for the individual, for business, and for government (who have ranked a cyber attack as a UK 'Tier 1 Threat').
‘Good security also creates new opportunities - for better privacy, new businesses, and more efficient online services. Our research tries to span these concerns - both trying to fix short-term problems and to explore how good security shapes new products and services in the future.’
The new Centre of Excellence will enhance the opportunities for business, government and other university partners to benefit from research at Oxford in areas such as; secure sharing of healthcare information, visualising the potential impact of cyber attacks, giving people more control over their personal data, and developing more secure alternatives to online passwords. It will also encourage further collaboration with groups both inside and outside the University.
Dr David Wallom, Associate Director - Innovation, of the Oxford e–Research Centre at Oxford University said: ‘Many disciplines today collect vast volumes of data, shared this between collaborators both inside and outside the academic sector, performing analysis, looking for patterns and unexpected links. These often have strong security needs, and so research in cyber security and its applications is crucial to the future of scientific research.’
The Academic Centres of Excellence will open for business on 1 July 2012 for a period of five years. During this time GCHQ will encourage further universities to develop their capabilities in order to meet the stringent criteria for recognition. This will position the UK cyber research community as the pre-eminent environment in which to conduct leading edge research and in turn attract the best academics and research students in the UK and from overseas.

Minister for Cyber Security Francis Maude said: "We want to make the UK one of the most secure places in the world to do business, by investing in the best expertise to keep pace with technological change. That is why promoting academic excellence is at the heart of the Government's Cyber Security Strategy. These first eight Centres will play a vital role in boosting research, expanding our cyber skills base and fostering innovation in the field."

The University's bid draws on over a decade's research on topics in information security, from far-reaching theoretical foundations in protocols and steganalysis, through the design and analysis of distributed secure systems and applications, to the practical application of such ideas in the protection of data in cloud and scientific computing, and the protection of the individual's privacy. Those whose research formed the main part of the Centre of Excellence bid are: Professor Sadie Creese, Dr Ivan Flechais, Professor Michael Goldsmith, Dr Andrew Ker, Professor Gavin Lowe, Dr Andrew Martin, Dr Ivan Martinovic, Professor Bill Roscoe, and Dr Andrew Simpson at the Department of Computer Science; Dr David Wallom at the Oxford e-Research Centre; and Dr Ian Brown at the Oxford Internet Institute.

25 universities applied and eight were selected. The eight Universities chosen as Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research are: University of Oxford, Imperial College London, University of Bristol, Lancaster University, Queen’s University Belfast, Royal Holloway, University of London, University of Southampton, and University College London.

For more information contact Dr Andrew Martin of the Department of Computer Science,  or the University of Oxford Press Office on +44 (0)1865 283877 or
The 26th March 2012 saw the official launch of The Oxford University Cyber Security Centre. The Cyber Security Centre will encompass education at every level and contribute to improving the University's own IT security, as well as promoting the research of the Centre of Excellence.