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Northumbria University recognised as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research

20th March 2024

Northumbria University has maintained its status as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACE-CSR) in recognition of its internationally leading research in this field.

Following a recent assessment by the National Cyber Security Centre and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Northumbria was named one of just 21 universities across the UK awarded ACE-CSR status for the next five years (2024-2029).

This is the second time Northumbria has been recognised, having first gained ACE-CSR status in 2019.

The latest assessment confirmed that Northumbria continues to meet the tough standards required to be named as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACE-CSR). This includes:

  • commitment from the university's leadership team to support and invest in the university's cyber security research capacity and capability
  • a critical mass of academic staff engaged in leading-edge cyber security research
  • a proven track record of producing high-impact cyber security research
  • sustained funding from a variety of sources to ensure the continuing financial viability of the research team's activities

Dr Biju Issac, Associate Professor and Head of Subject (Network and Cyber Security) within Northumbria University’s Department of Computer & Information Sciences, is the Director of the Northumbria Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACE-CSR).

Speaking about the latest accreditation and what it means for the University, he said: “This is a national recognition for high-quality cyber security research from The National Cyber Security Centre which shows the quality and volume of funded cyber security research that is happening at Northumbria.

“This research spans the technical aspects of cyber security, such as intelligent Malware, Botnet and Ransomware detection with advanced AI techniques and the human-centred aspects of cyber security, which focuses on people, culture and their behaviour within a legal framework.”

Northumbria’s Cyber Clinic works with NEBRC (North East Business Resilience Centre), which is police-led, and this collaboration has helped to secure business networks from cyber-attacks. Northumbria’s cyber security students working for NEBRC as part-time ethical hackers have helped many SMEs.

The Northumbria Team includes the following academics: Biju Issac (Director), Pam Briggs, Nauman Aslam, James Nicholson, Dawn Branley-Bell, Longzhi Yang, Gerhard Fehringer, Paul Vickers, Philip Anderson, Hamid Jahankhani, Marian Oswald, Jeyamohan Neera, Fouad Khelifi and Farah Ahmed.

The Northumbria Cyber Security Research Group leads the University’s research across this area.

This multi-disciplinary group combines technical research with applied AI on Malware/botnet detection, biometric encryption, wireless sensor networks, web security protocols, and image recognition, with human-centred work on usable security, privacy, trust and behaviour change.

The group’s work identifies both the virtual and physical risks associated with connected smart cities and complements other work ongoing at the University relating to the digital living space, which explores the intersection of people, place and technology in the digital and urban environment.

Emphasising the importance of research in this area, Professor Pam Briggs, former ACE-CSR director and Northumbria Cyber Security Research Group lead, commented: “Cybersecurity attacks grow in number and complexity year on year and are quickly becoming smarter with new AI capability.

“It is vital that we understand the role that both people and technology will play in helping to reduce our vulnerability to such attacks and I’m delighted that this ACE-CSR gives recognition to the work Northumbria researchers are doing in this space.”

Chris Ensor, Deputy Director Cyber Growth of the National Cyber Security Centre, said: “I’m delighted that 21 universities have been recognised as Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research, including four who have received the award for the first time.

“These recognitions are testament to the dedication of academics, support staff and senior management who have ensured that cyber security remains high on the university’s agenda.

“And they demonstrate that the UK has a growing number of world-class universities carrying out cutting-edge research into all areas of cyber security.

“We very much look forward to working with them over the coming years to tackle the most difficult cyber security challenges.”

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