Honours for Europe’s first Cybersecurity Analytics & AI Excellence Centre

1 June 2018

Cyber security partnership

A £5m partnership between Airbus and Cardiff University to tackle global cyber security has clinched an International Impact Award.

The collaboration has led to the development of the Airbus Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Analytics – the first of its kind in Europe. Cardiff University researchers partner experts from Airbus to carry out world-leading studies into machine learning, data analytics, and artificial intelligence for cyber-attack detection.

A winner at this year’s Cardiff University Innovation and Impact Awards, the project aims to develop new ways of protecting corporate IT networks, intellectual property, and critical national infrastructure from cyber-attacks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AThhhByjPJk&feature=youtu.be

The Centre – which opened in 2017 – builds on a mutual agreement to develop industry-relevant academic programmes in cybersecurity at the University, to fill the skills gap that currently exists in the field. Knowledge sharing between Airbus and the University is also supported, with opportunities for secondments and industrial placements for researchers and students.

Cardiff University’s Dr Pete Burnap, Director of the Airbus Centre of Excellence for Cyber Security Analytics, said: “Cyber security analytics is about improving our resilience to cyber-attacks through data modelling to detect and block malicious behaviour before it causes its full impact; but also about understanding what motivates the behaviour, what its likely impact will be, and how to communicate security alerts among decision and policy-makers...”

Pete Burnap

“Our work supports UK Government’s Industrial Strategy, which aims to put the UK at the forefront of the Artificial Intelligence and data revolution. The centre is interdisciplinary by design and is drawing together expertise in cyber security from across the whole University.”

Professor Pete Burnap, Professor of Data Science & Cybersecurity

The partnership has led Airbus to create new spin out technologies which have transformed risk assessment in the UK and globally. The work has informed UK Government policy on Critical National Infrastructure, created new risk models to assess cyber defences, and built what are effectively ‘DNA profiles’ of malware behaviours that has proved to be more effective at detecting malware in large corporate environments. The research has also seen advanced methods for tackling malware integrated into Airbus front-line defences.

Professor Kevin Jones, Head of Cyber Security Architecture, Innovation and Scouting at Airbus, said: “Collaborating with leading Universities such as Cardiff to research and develop sophisticated machine learning, data analytics, and AI for attack detection is a key approach in the future protection of systems where automation will play a key role.

“The Airbus Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Analytics is an enabler for the rapid transfer of research into operational activities and ensures that researchers are able to access the latest techniques and data, and in addition are supported by Airbus experts.”

The collaborators will host an international conference later this year. Other benefits include undergraduate placements at Airbus, EPSRC and Airbus funded PhD awards, guest lectures by Airbus staff and a new advisory board for a cyber security taught MSc programme.

The University’s Innovation and Impact Awards 2018 highlight the benefits of partnerships between academics and external organisations.