CyberInvest, a £6.5m scheme to fund research into cyber security, has been launched by the government, with spy agency GCHQ playing a lead role.
“CyberInvest is about bringing together academia, industry and government to address the critical shortage of high-end cyber research in a more focused way,” said GCHQ director Robert Hannigan during the annual IA15 conference in London.
GCHQ will work in collaboration with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, while 18 companies have signed-up to the scheme, including BT, HP and IBM. The £6.5m will be invested over the next five years.
“It’s important to recognise that CyberInvest is a new programme and it provides additional targeted investment,” said Ed Vaizey, the UK’s digital economy minister.
He continued: “The UK is one of the leaders in cyber security and one of the reasons that we have a leadership role is because of excellent research that our universities produce. The UK is doing well but we want to keep moving forward. Technology in this area changes hugely all the time and other nations are working hard as well so we want to have an even more coordinated and a more focused approach to cyber research.”
Vaizey said the CyberInvest scheme will help to give the companies that work alongside the government and intelligence agencies “public recognition”.
Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock, who also spoke at the event, said that the changes the government has made in procuring IT will enable it to better address emerging cyber security risks.
“We’re treating security as a core responsibility, rather than outsourcing it to our suppliers,” Hancock said. “Many successful attacks exploit out-of-date systems and GovTech used to date very quickly indeed. Some of our legacy systems were designed before the invention of the web.
“Security had to be bolted on top, rather than designed in from the outset. So we’re now phasing out the large inflexible contracts that locked us into ageing IT. And we’re building iterative, adaptive systems, which allow us to rapidly react to new threats.
“We can change the code that runs GOV.UK within an hour for example,” he claimed, concluding: “We now need to embed this approach across Whitehall.”
In a statement, GCHQ explained the initiative in more depth: “CyberInvest will build a community of industry, government and academia who are committed to sustained investment in cyber security research.”
It continued: “While many companies invest in research, some find it difficult to target the right opportunities, and where investment is made, it is not always visible or focused. CyberInvest will provide a forum for the latest in cyber security research, drawing upon the expertise of GCHQ, leading academics and industry.”