EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Trust, Identity, Privacy and Security in Large-scale Infrastructures (TIPS-at-Scale)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Computer Science

Abstract

Within the next few years the number of devices connected to each other and the Internet will outnumber humans by almost 5:1. These connected devices will underpin everything from healthcare to transport to energy and manufacturing. At the same time, this growth is not just in the number or variety of devices, but also in the ways they communicate and share information with each other, building hyper-connected cyber-physical infrastructures that span most aspects of people's lives.

For the UK to maximise the socio-economic benefits from this revolutionary change we need to address the myriad trust, identity, privacy and security issues raised by such large, interconnected infrastructures. Solutions to many of these issues have previously only been developed and tested on systems orders of magnitude less complex in the hope they would 'scale up'. However, the rapid development and implementation of hyper-connected infrastructures means that we need to address these challenges at scale since the issues and the complexity only become apparent when all the different elements are in place.

There is already a shortage of highly skilled people to tackle these challenges in today's systems with latest estimates noting a shortfall of 1.8M by 2022. With an estimated 80Bn malicious scans and 780K records lost daily due to security and privacy breaches, there is an urgent need for future leaders capable of developing innovative solutions that will keep society one step ahead of malicious actors intent on compromising security, privacy and identity and hence eroding trust in infrastructures.

The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) 'Trust, Identity, Privacy and Security - at scale' (TIPS-at-Scale) will tackle this by training a new generation of interdisciplinary research leaders. We will do this by educating PhD students in both the technical skills needed to study and analyse TIPS-at-scale, while simultaneously studying how to understand the challenges as fundamentally human too. The training involves close involvement with industry and practitioners who have played a key role in co-creating the programme and, uniquely, responsible innovation. The implementation of the training is novel due to its 'at scale' focus on TIPS that contextualises students' learning using relevant real-world, global problems revealed through project work, external speakers, industry/international internships/placements and masterclasses.

The CDT will enrol ten students per year for a 4-year programme. The first year will involve a series of taught modules on the technical and human aspects of TIPS-at-scale. There will also be an introductory Induction Residential Week, and regular masterclasses by leading academics and industry figures, including delivery at industrial facilities. The students will also undertake placements in industry and research groups to gain hands-on understanding of TIPS-at-scale research problems. They will then continue working with stakeholders in industry, academia and government to develop a research proposal for their final three years, as well as undertake internships each year in industry and international research centres.

Their interdisciplinary knowledge will continue to expand through masterclasses and they will develop a deep appreciation of real-world TIPS-at-scale issues through experimentation on state-of-the-art testbed facilities and labs at the universities of Bristol and Bath, industry and a city-wide testbed: Bristol-is-Open. Students will also work with innovation centres in Bath and Bristol to develop novel, interdisciplinary solutions to challenging TIPS-at-scale problems as part of Responsible Innovation Challenges.

These and other mechanisms will ensure that TIPS-at-Scale graduates will lead the way in tackling the trust, identity, privacy and security challenges in future large, massively connected infrastructures and will do so in a way that considers wider sosocial responsibility.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit?

The inter-disciplinary doctoral graduates trained within the CDT will play a key role in addressing the acute shortage of highly skilled workers in this area, hence meeting industry and government needs. The research they will conduct in the CDT and their future work will strongly impact industry, government, academia and society. Industrial applications cover those involving large-scale, socio-technical infrastructures where resilience-at-scale is a fundamental need, such as, intelligent transportation, finance, digital healthcare, energy generation & distribution and advanced manufacturing. The globally unique capacity focusing on TIPS-at-Scale will position the UK as a world-leader, offering major economic benefits by ensuring that the UK is a safe place in which to do business, and social benefits in terms of security and privacy of the individual.

More specifically, the CDT's research and training programme will provide graduates with capabilities to address socio-technical challenges of TIPS-at-Scale, including understanding of user and adversarial behaviours. This is of major importance to digital infrastructure providers, government agencies and law enforcement agencies. This is in addition to the wider business and health sectors where the protection of data and the physical processes controlled by large-scale infrastructure is vital. Research on resilience in partially-trusted environments will lead to new architectures and new technologies to significantly enhance integrity and resilience, including new authentication methods and trust models. Research on empirically-grounded assurances for TIPS will break new ground by providing new interdisciplinary techniques and design principles to underpin infrastructures of the future. Last, but by no means least, by embedding Responsible Innovation into the programme throughout, the CDT ensures that TIPS-at-Scale approaches take a values-based view that considers TIPS across the full lifecycle of digital infrastructures: from conception to design, implementation and deployment through to maintenance, evolution and decommissioning. Such a Responsible Innovation approach will benefit society-at-large.

How will they benefit?

There is a critical need within the UK for a new breed of researchers and future leaders, equipped with a breadth of interdisciplinary skills to tackle TIPS issues at play in future infrastructures and a depth of knowledge, drawing upon interdisciplinary skills, to develop novel and innovative solutions to address TIPS-at-Scale. The CDT will produce a pipeline of such researchers and leaders trained to PhD level. It will build on very strong existing links with organisations such as Vodafone, Google, HP, Airbus , Thales, Symantec, IBM, Babcock, NCC Group, Altran, Wessex Water, Cybernetica and Embecosm, all of which have contributed to co-creation of the CDT and are committed to close engagement with it. Both universities will use their business development teams to further engage with these and other relevant organisations. Major opportunities for generating economic and societal benefits exist with the planned Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus of University of Bristol (due to open in 2021) - with a focus on co-creation of a suite of PG training programmes with industry - and the Bath Innovation Centre. The CDT will also leverage the various impact channels of the three EPSRC-NCSC Research Institutes, the PETRAS Hub and the CREST Centre in which the two Universities play a major role. Both universities already have research and PhD studentships directly funded by industry and agencies such as DSTL, NCSC and GCHQ as well as iCASE awards hence close relationships already exist to maximise impact. The CDT will also organise public debates and social media campaigns to encourage public participation and shaping of TIPS-at-scale discussions and solutions.

Publications

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