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September 14, 2012

UK Academic Elite Called Upon to Tackle Cyber Threats

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

With a striking similarity to how Britain’s academic elite played a key role in WW2, the United Kingdom is now relying on some of its finest minds to investigate cyber security; social scientists, mathematicians and computer scientists from across the UK will collaborate on the global problem of cyber-attacks.

They will be part of a new academic Research Institute, which was funded in part by the government and set up by the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) – a very hush-hush spy agency.

The Research Institute is a virtual organization involving seven universities. Academics, industry security experts and international researchers will all work together almost similiar to how Britain’s brightest worked to break the German code at Bletchley Park in WW2. There are, however, modern realities.

"The UK is one of the most secure places in the world to do business - already 8 percent of our GDP is generated from the cyber world and that trend is set to grow,” Francis Maude, minister for Cyber Security said in a recent statement. “But we are not complacent. Through the National Cyber Security Programme we are putting serious investment into the best UK expertise to lead thought in the science of cyber. The UK's first academic Research Institute will strengthen capability in a strategically important area, keeping the UK at the forefront of international research in the field."

University College London will host the Research Institute with Professor Angela Sasse becoming director of Research, which will open next month.

Last week, Iain Lobban, head of the GCHQ, warned there are "credible threats to cyber-security of an unprecedented scale, diversity and complexity" to UK businesses, The Associated Press reported.

In a related matter, in 2011 some 73 percent of information security professionals surveyed as part of the United Kingdom’s (ISC)-2's Global Information (News - Alert) Security Workforce Study ranked software vulnerabilities as the number one online threat, TMCnet said.

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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo

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