Published: 25 February 2016

Cyber threat security under the spotlight at Surrey and Singapore Universities

The University of Surrey and Singapore Management University (SMU) will lead one of six new joint research projects which will see UK and Singapore-based researchers working together to strengthen knowledge and capabilities in cyber security.

Researchers from Surrey and SMU will work together on ‘Computational Modelling and Automatic Non-intrusive Detection Of Human Behaviour-based Insecurity’.

Professor Robert H Deng, Director of the Secure Mobile Centre and Professor of the School of Information Systems at SMU and Dr Shujun Li, Deputy Director of the Surrey Centre for Cyber Security (SCCS) at the University of Surrey, are coordinating partners in this project, which aims to prove the feasibility of automated detection of human behaviour related insecurity at the human-computer interface (HCI) level.

This interdisciplinary project will involve Dr Patrice Rusconi, a cognitive psychologist working at Surrey's School of Psychology, as the co-investigator. There will also be collaboration with two international researchers from the NICTA, Australia’s Information Communications Technology (ICT) Research Centre of Excellence, the nation’s largest organisation dedicated to ICT research.

The project will support automated detection of known and unknown human behaviour related insecurity by developing a general-purpose computational framework for human behaviour modelling with supporting software tools, and demonstrate the usefulness of the proposed framework by applying it to selected human user authentication systems such as shoulder-surfing resistant PIN entry methods and advanced password systems designed to be securer against malicious observers.

“We are excited to team up with the international researchers from Singapore and Australia on an important but less-studied area of human factors in cyber security: modelling humans and automating security evaluation. It is our belief that the research will open up new opportunities to the project team and the whole cyber security research community at large, and equip cyber security vendors and service providers with new tools that enable them to provide more secure solutions to end users,” commented Drs Shujun Li and Patrice Rusconi. The project will official start in April, when a two-day project kick-off meeting will take place.

The Singapore-UK joint grant call was launched in May 2015 by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF) as a result of a Memorandum of Understanding on Cybersecurity, signed by the UK’s Cabinet Office and Singapore’s Cybersecurity Agency during Prime Minster David Cameron’s visit to Singapore in July 2015. This initiative demonstrated both the UK and Singapore's commitment to work together to ensure a secure cyberspace that supports innovation as well as social and economic development for both countries.

The grant call received a total of 22 research proposals and the results of this joint £2.4 million ($5.1 million) research call were announced on 16 December 2015. A total of six projects (including the joint research between the University of Surrey and SMU) will be funded over the next three years in areas such as intrusions, data analytics, human factors, and sector and applications.

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