The University of Southampton

Funding to help Southampton students protect the UK against cyber-attacks

Published: 21 December 2015

The University of Southampton is to share in £500,000 of funding to provide students with the skills to help protect the UK against cyber-attacks.

Southampton is one of eight institutions to receive funding from the Higher Education Academy (HEA), working with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), to develop projects that will help improve the skills of graduates, address the shortage of cyber security skills and future proof the country’s IT sector making it more resilient to cyber-attacks.

Led from Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), the Southampton project ‘Enhancing Campus Cyber Security through Constructivist Student Learning’ will receive over £53,000. It will investigate how universities can benefit from collaboration between external industrial cyber security experts and their own multi-disciplinary staff and students.

“We will analyse how industrial cyber security best practices can be translated to more open campus environments, where, for example, lecturers commonly use their own preferred devices and services, to produce learning materials and improved institutional practices,” said project leader Dr Federica Paci, Lecturer in Cyber Security within ECS at the University of Southampton.

“Another perspective will explore how the student learning experience and university’s security posture can be enhanced through activities including supervised penetration tests of university systems and establishing an appropriate responsible disclosure policy,” she added.

The project, which was launched last week, will be based within the University’s recently-established Cyber Security Academy (CSA). The CSA is a partnership between the University and world-leading industry and Government partners to provide a focal point for cyber security research, education and outreach.

Professor Simon Cox, the University’s Chief Information Officer, said: “We are very excited to be exploring how the student learning experience and a university’s security posture can be enhanced through activities.”

Professor Vladimiro Sassone, director of the CSA, remarked: “Engaging with students to determine methods to harness their interest and desire to learn practical cyber security, through controlled penetration and security posture testing, and the establishment of appropriate responsible disclosure policies is one of the distinguishing features of the Academy.”

Professor Stephanie Marshall, Chief Executive of the HEA, said: “The Higher Education Academy is pleased to be able to offer support to these higher education providers to develop innovative projects that will improve cyber security teaching and learning. If the UK is to be equipped to respond to the increasing threat of cyber-attacks, we must ensure that the next generation of cyber security specialists receive the best teaching and learning to furnish them with the skills needed. Each of the projects receiving the Development Grants has the potential to do this.”

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Protecting the UK in cyber space is a top priority, which is why the Government recently announced £1.9 billion funding for cyber security and an ambitious new skills programme. The grants we're announcing today will enable Universities to develop high quality, innovative teaching and learning, and ensure we have skilled people to address future cyber security challenges.”

The work is funded from the Government’s five-year, £860m National Cyber Security Programme to protect and promote the UK in cyber space.

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