Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland has opened an institute that aims to improve hardware security and reduce vulnerability to cyber threats, funded by £5 million ($6.7m) from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

The fourth cyber security institute to be opened in the UK, the Research Institute in Secure Hardware and Embedded Systems (RISE) at the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) will team up with research partners, led by Queen’s University and the universities of Cambridge, Bristol and Birmingham. 

IoT and cloud security

Queen's University Belfast Hardware Institute
– Queen's University Belfast Hardware Institute

“RISE is in an excellent position to become the go-to place for high quality hardware security research,” RISE director, Professor Maire O’Neill said. ”A key aim is to bring together the hardware security community in the UK and build a strong network of national and international research partnerships.”

The institute plans to look for vulnerabilities in Internet of Things devices, analyzing the security needs of embedded and networking devices, as well as cloud services. It also plans to study counterfeit devices and the risks of cloned hardware.

Dr Ian Levy, NCSC technical director, said: “I’m delighted to see the formation of our latest Research Institute, RISE, concentrating on the potential of new hardware security technologies.

“I think that the inclusion of hardware-based security capabilities in commodity devices could be a game changer in our fight to reduce the harm of cyberattacks and so I’m really pleased to see a strong set of initial research projects.”

The institute was chosen after a call by EPSRC and NCSC in March 2017 for a new research facility in hardware security.

Professor Philip Nelson, chief executive of EPSRC, said: “The new Research Institute will increase our understanding of hardware security technology, leading to pioneering new approaches and fostering collaboration between leading researchers, the National Cyber Security Centre and industry partners to make the UK a more resilient nation.”