UK Government champions malware protection with new investment

Funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Innovate UK is set to support the development of the Centre for Secure Information Technology (CSIT).

This complements £9m of core funding from Queen’s University Belfast, where the centre is based.

This investment will be used to enhance security in virtual environments and connected devices and tackle malware threats and detect and prevent fraud or personal information theft from laptops, smartphones and cloud storage.

CSIT will build on industry and academic partnerships worldwide, increasing the projected level of investment to £38m in the next five years.

“CSIT has delivered significant UK economic growth through our original joint investment with EPSRC, contributing to over 950 new jobs in the Belfast cyber security cluster,” claimed director of technology and innovation at Innovate UK Kevin Baughan.

“By extending for a further five years, we underline our support for their commitment to raise the commercialisation bar even higher. This will help companies of all sizes growth through leveraging the excellent UK science base in cyber security,” he added.

CSIT is one of seven UK Innovation and Knowledge Centres (IKCs) funded by EPSRC since 2007 in conjunction with Innovate UK.

IKCs intend to commercialise emerging technology by creating early stage crtitical mass in areas of disruptive technology.

“This further investment from CSIT recognises how over the last five years we have successfully blended work class research and innovation to deliver economic impact nationally, internationally and regionally,” claimed Professor John McCanny at CSIT.

“This funding will allow us to further accelerate new value creation in this sector, drive business venture creation through our new pre-accelerator programme and build capacity for the industry by providing it with high calibre Masters and PhD graduates,” he added.

Back To Cyber Security Basics

However, there are those that welcome the investment, but thinks more focus needs to placed on reminding organisations of the basics of data protection and the importance of password security.

“It’s great to see that the government is investing more into tackling malware, especially as the use of mobile devices and cloud computing continues to grow in UK businesses,” claimed Jason Hart, VP Cloud Services, Identity and Data Protection at digital services provider Gemalto.

“Although research will focus on anti-malware solutions to detect intrusions and prevent data theft on laptops, it’s important that focus is place on technologies to secure the use of passwords.

“One of the things that malware does is capture user passwords, so if the individual is using the same password across multiple accounts, which many people often do, they are at risk of having several accounts compromised.

“Today people have multiple identities, personal, business and IoT, so if one account is breached, the likelihood is that all personas are at risk as well,” he added.

Hart recommends that static passwords be replaced with One-Time Password (OTP) Authentication technology, capable of generating highly secure one-time passwords to authenticate users.

“Replacing static passwords with OTP is inexpensive and automated,” the Gemalto VP claimed.

“Not many realise this, but getting rid of passwords would eliminate 80 per cent of today’s security problems. We have to go back to the basics of data protection, confidentiality, availability, integrity accountability, auditability,” he added.

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