The University has become one of eight UK institutions to be awarded the status of Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research by one of the UK intelligence agencies.
GCHQ, dubbed the ‘Government’s Eavesdropping Centre’, is based in Cheltenham and has been at the centre of media attention in recent days after the government announced new powers for police and intelligence officers to monitor online activity, has announced that each awarded institution will receive a grant £50,000 in addition to the new status, along with access to opportunities for collaboration with GCHQ and industry and information on government and commercial cyber security issues.
According to a GCHQ press release, the University will be expected to undertake original research to enhance the UK’s knowledge of cybercrime, provide “top quality” graduates in cyber security and “drive up innovation”.
In a statement, a GCHQ spokesperson said “GCHQ’s recognition of eight Universities as Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research underlines our conviction in the vital role that academia has to play in nurturing future cyber security talent to support the UK’s prosperity in our cyber age.”
It appears that GCHQ will also sponsor PhD programmes, and look to set up ‘Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Education’ in the future.
David Willetts, Universities minister, who was recently heckled by protesters outside Student Services after giving a presentation, said in a statement “Britain has one of the largest online economies in the world and a growing cyber security sector. Supporting universities to carry out more research and training skilled graduates to work in the cyber-security industry will help build further confidence in doing business online.
There was strong competition among universities to be selected as a Centre of Excellence in cyber security research.David WillettsUniversities Minister
He went on to claim, “There was strong competition among universities to be selected as a Centre of Excellence in cyber security research and I congratulate those who have been successful.”
Professor Vladimiro Sassone, Director of the new Centre said “Our well-integrated research portfolio links together aspects of internet privacy and trust, super-identity and access control, and secure hardware devices in one full circle.
“This places the University of Southampton in a unique position. Online activities underpin a growing range of day to day activities and there is a real need to ensure that users are supported in their online transactions and behaviours. Issues span the robustness of our national security and economic processes, to the security of digital information held by government and public bodies, and recognise the technical, legal, ethical and social responsibilities around our own personal privacy”
The new status will officially take effect on the 1st July for a period of five years.