Skip to main content

Partnership forges excellence in Human Centric Cyber Security

10 October 2022

Professor Colin Riordan signs the Airbus Centre of Excellence agreement

A Wales-based partnership to find solutions to human-focused threats to cyber security has been formally recognised.

The Airbus Centre of Excellence in Human Centric Cyber Security at Cardiff University is a multi-layered collaboration led by the global tech giant, Welsh Government and Cardiff University.

Driving a holistic approach to cyber security, combining human centric analysis with technical expertise, the formalisation of the Centre is the latest milestone in a long and productive friendship between Cardiff University and Airbus.

Speaking at the signing of the strategic partnership, Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Cyber is a key growth area and we can take pride in saying Wales has one of the biggest cybersecurity ecosystems in the UK and one of the strongest in Europe. The Airbus Centre of Excellence in Human Centric Cyber Security at Cardiff University will further bolster our cyber cluster, and I am delighted the Welsh Government has supported this project via the Endeavr programme. Long may it help preserve our ideas, safeguard our IT networks, and protect our national digital infrastructure from cyber attacks.”

Dr Kevin Jones, Group Chief Information Security officer for Airbus, said: “Along the journey, we have built relationships, trust and collaboration that are vitally important. At its heart, our collaboration is all about knowledge transfer, skills transfer and trust. It means that in industry we can bring best practice and latest research knowledge into what we deliver every day.”

Kellie Beirne, CEO, Cardiff Capital Region, said: “The partnership has gone from strength to strength. Research from the collaboration has leveraged further investment of around £25m in future activity, anchoring Airbus within the region and Wales. It’s a fantastic asset to be selling on a global stage.”

Professor Colin Riordan, President and Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University, told the audience: “We are building on strong foundations. The Airbus Centre of Excellence in Cybersecurity was launched in 2017, led by Professor Pete Burnap working with the National Cyber Security Centre, and recognised as a National Cyber Security Centre of Excellence in 2018. Today’s launch of the Airbus Centre of Excellence in Human Centric Cyber Security, led by Professor Phil Morgan, puts people at the centre, finding solutions to human actions that are often the weakest link in the cyber security chain.”

Professor Phillip Morgan, Human Factors Excellence Research Group, School of Psychology. who leads the Airbus Centre of Excellence in Human Centric Cyber Security, said: “Optimising people is the key to cybersecurity. We may have the best hardware and software, but we realised more had to be done on human centric factors within cybersecurity, within industry, within workplaces – we recognised seamless cyber security is impossible unless we get the people factor right, which led to the development an ambitious programme of research which continues to grow through the Centre.”

The event also celebrated the recognition of Cardiff University as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Education. The University has achieved Gold Award status by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of GCHQ.

Cardiff is now one of only three of the research-intensive Russell Group Universities in the UK to hold both ACE-CSE status for education and ACE-CSR status for its work in Cyber Security Research.

Pete Burnap, Professor of Data Science and Cyber Security, School of Computer Science & Informatics, and Director of Airbus’ existing Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Analytics at Cardiff University, said the teaching team work tirelessly to develop programmes that ensure companies secure graduates equipped with sought-after technical cyber security skills.

"I’m delighted to bolster our existing Airbus relationship around research in AI-driven cyber security with a new pillar around human centred cybersecurity. The fact this is led out of the School of Psychology shows genuinely interdisciplinarity which is vital as we develop new digitally connected and automated futures – we’ll only get one chance to build this the right way for society. I'm also particularly excited about our future plans to upskill local people into careers in cyber through cutting-edge CPD activity tailored to employer needs," says Professor Burnap.

"As the university leads the £13.8m Wales Cyber Innovation Hub, we're aiming to make this region synonymous with a work-ready talent pipeline that attracts businesses into the area and creates more than 25 cyber start-ups, upskilling and reskilling over 1,500 local people with practical cyber security skills."

Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Cyber Skills and Growth, added that “It is a testament to the continual efforts of academics, support staff and senior management that cyber security remains high on Cardiff University’s agenda. We very much look forward to working with Cardiff over the coming years and strongly encourage other universities to work towards achieving similar recognition in the future.”

Share this story

Learn how our cutting-edge research, technology transfer, business development and student enterprise drive our vision.