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Queen’s University invests £500k in state-of-the-art cyber security research lab

  • Queen’s University Belfast is investing £500k in a brand new state-of-the-art cyber security research lab at the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT).

    The facility, which is based at the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) at Queen’s, will create a stronger service and innovation driven engagement model of academic research to address global challenges within the cyber security industry.

    CSIT will work with local and international corporations, start-up companies and SMEs to form a strong response to cyber security attacks.

    The CSIT Test lab includes a high-speed network interconnected via a multi-gigabit optical fibre to the public Internet. The experimental test network is a collection of diverse information and communication technologies with unique connectivity properties. It also includes a state-of-the-art Cyber Range, which is a virtual environment that is used for cyber-defence training and cyber technology development.

    Professor Sakir Sezer, Head of Connected Systems Security at CSIT, explains that this is a significant investment for the research community in Northern Ireland, with opportunities for supporting and promoting innovation within cyber security.

    He says: “With cyber-attacks and emerging threats becoming increasingly sophisticated and complex, applied research and innovation in cybersecurity depends on data-sets and well equipped state-of-the-art experimental labs and shared research infrastructures.

    “The CSIT Test Lab is one of the first UK-wide research infrastructures providing an experimental playground for both academia and industry to collaborate, innovate and share equipment, tools, experiments and data-sets. We are very proud of our new custom-built Cyber Range which will allow us to connect remotely and share our facilities on an ad-hoc basis with our partners in the UK, US, Europe and Asia.”

    Professor Sezer adds: “The lab gives Queen’s University Belfast and CSIT new experimental capabilities for application (software) and appliance (hardware) penetration testing, which is highly relevant for the local cyber security cluster member companies.

    “By combining all the new capabilities, the lab facilitates a highly configurable platform for many widespread communication technologies, enabling state-of-the-art ‘capture the flag and other red/blue team’ cybersecurity challenge games and specialised cybersecurity staff training.”

    With extended high-speed traffic capture and storage capability, the new lab will allow researchers at CSIT, and their partners, to undertake advanced malware monitoring and reverse engineering. The researchers will also be able to explore the most prevalent cyber-attack methods, including Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), by generating synthetic attack replay and monitoring features.

    Judith Millar, Business Development Manager at CSIT, comments: “This new extension of the CSIT research infrastructure provides the essential technologies and tools to deliver critical services and training for the local Northern Ireland Cyber Security Cluster.

    “SMEs and start-ups will be able to access the latest cyber security technologies, infrastructure and synthetic test-data for testing and product validation through this impressive research facility. Training, interoperability and penetration testing support by CSIT for start-ups and SMEs are vital for competitive advantage, economic success and added value for the local economy.”

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