Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research - Lancaster University

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University
Department Name: Computing & Communications


The Lancaster Cyber Security Centre of Excellence is a multi-disciplinary centre spanning the School of Computing and Communications, the Department of Psychology and the University Centre for Computer Corpus Research on Language (UCREL). The centre involves three full professors (Rashid, Hutchison, Honary), one Reader (Angelov), five senior lecturers (Race, Roedig, Taylor, Mauthe, Ed- wards) and one lecturer (Rayson). In addition, the centre has a dedicated member of staff (Dr. Daniel Prince) to manage its flagship Masters program in Cyber Security and the extensive relationships it has with industry and governmental security organisations. The centre team is further supported by a full-time software developer and a full-time administrator.

The centre is internationally renowned for its cyber security research on network resilience (Hutchison, Mauthe, Race), security of communications (Honary, Hutchison, Race, Edwards), securing mobile networks and embedded systems (Race, Edwards, Roedig), intelligent systems for analysing large, heterogeneous information sources (Rashid, Rayson, Taylor, Angelov) and studies of user behaviours and human factors leading to cyber security threats (Rashid, Taylor, Rayson). These permanent members of staff are supported by five postdoctoral research associates (Greenwood, Baron, Smith, Simpson, Schaeffer-Filho) and two research fellows (Walkerdine, Taylor). This research has been funded from a variety of sources including research councils (EPSRC, ESRC), the European Commission, JANET and direct investment from security organisations. Since Jan. 2007, the centre has received total research income of £3.7m from these sources. In addition, the centre has a thriving PhD program with 12 students completing their theses between Jan. 2007 and Dec. 2011 and another 15 starting their PhD studies. Most of the centre staff and students are principally housed in Infolab21, a £15m state-of-the-art research centre in ICT.

Two key principles permeate the centre's research ethos and hence distinguish it from typical cyber security research (i) its focus on multi-disciplinary research that combines traditional network security and communications mechanisms with approaches for large-scale data analysis and human behaviours informed by psychological and linguistic approaches, and (ii) its close engagement with stakeholders especially practitioners in cyber security in both governmental organisations and industry, who provide key requirements for our research and directly use our outputs.

Planned Impact

The project's key focus is on maximising impact from the ACE-CSR status and funds. As such the project targets a number of stakeholder groups in industry, policing and governmental organisations interested in cyber-security. A number of mechanisms are built into the project work plan to engage with these various stakeholders. The secondments programme is specifically designed to ensure a close working relationship with such stakeholders by hosting them within the Lancaster ACE-CSR or by providing opportunities for Lancaster staff and students to spend a period of secondment at stakeholder sites. This will maximise the potential of transferring knowledge, tools and techniques from the ACE-CSR to industry and practice.

Additional mechanisms such as direct meetings with stakeholders and organisation of a UK All-Hands meeting are again designed to maximise the impact on industry and practice.

The ACE-CSR will not operate in isolation and there is an extensive network of industry, practice and community contacts open to us through existing projects under the umbrella of the ACE-CSR. All these will also provide invaluable pathways to impact from research within the ACE-CSR - in fact the ACE-CSR will enable us to harmonise these various contacts into a systematic approach for maximising impact from our cyber-security research.


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Description The Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACE-CSR) is hosted within the University's flagship cross-disciplinary Security Lancaster Research Centre. Inaugurated by Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones in October 2012, the centre is nationally and internationally renowned for its inter-disciplinary, systems-centred research, that blends computer science and communications aspects of cyber security with approaches from behavioural and social sciences. Members of the ACE-CSR come from Computer Science, Communication Systems, Physics, Psychology, Management Science and the University Centre for Computer Corpus Research on Language (UCREL). The ACE-CSR is led by Professor Awais Rashid and involves 18 academic staff: 6 full professors (Rashid, Hutchison, Taylor, Roedig, Angelov and Ni), four Readers (Race, Mauthe, Young and Rayson), five senior lecturers (Yan, Nagaraja, Busby, Towse and Alexander) and 3 lecturers (Baron, Marnerides and Zhang). Another lecturer is currently being recruited. Since the award of our ACE-CSR status in 2012, we have grown from 10 to 19 academics (including the currently open position). In addition, the centre has a dedicated member of staff (Dr. Daniel Prince) to develop and manage its extensive relationships with industry and government organisations.
We have a thriving doctoral programme with 16 students completing their studies in the period Jan. 2012 - Dec. 2016 and 32 new students starting. Another six students are due to start by Oct. 2017. Most of the centre staff and students are principally housed in a dedicated wing of Infolab21, a £15M state-of-the-art research centre in ICT. In addition to office space for permanent staff, there is dedicated space housing the post-doctoral researchers and PhD students as well as lab space to house state-of-the-art testbeds on cyber security of industrial control systems, software-defined networks, network function virtualisation, and novel security interfaces for IoT. The centre also has a flagship inter-disciplinary MSc in Cyber Security - with its own dedicated teaching labs - which was amongst the first four programmes to receive full certification by GCHQ.
Exploitation Route -
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy

Description The project has already led to a number of interdisciplinary initiatives at Lancaster University as well as collaborations with academic and industry organisations nationally and internationally. Our research has had substantial policy and practice impact. For instance, our work data exfiltration and command & control tactics of APTs has influenced revisions to the Top 20 Critical Security Controls from the Council of Cyber Security. Our research on physically uncloneable functions employing quantum mechanics has led to 6 patent filings to date and a successful spin-out company (QuantumBase). Our research on the resilience of the Internet backbone in Europe has provided policy input to the Cabinet Office and ENISA. Our research on cyber criminal behaviours in online social networks and peer-to-peer systems has influenced UK and EU policy on child protection and is in use by law enforcement internationally. Our work on penetration testing standards has provided recommendations to the British Standards Institute (BSI) while our work on targeted online password guessing has led to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) revising part of SP 800-63-3 Digital Authentication Guideline.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Security and Diplomacy,Transport
Impact Types Societal,Economic

Description DSTL
Amount £86,202 (GBP)
Organisation Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2012 
End 09/2015
Description EPSRC
Amount £200,396 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/I016546/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2010 
End 04/2012
Description EPSRC
Amount £343,912 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/J005053/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2012 
End 05/2014
Description European Commission - Belgium
Amount £405,000 (GBP)
Funding ID SI 2601002 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 06/2011 
End 11/2013