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New UK academic research institute for software analysis and verification

The second research institute is funded by a £4.5 million grant and comprises teams from six UK universities (Queen Mary, London; Edinburgh; Imperial College London; University College London; Kent; and the university of Manchester). The teams were selected following a competitive process that required new research projects into vulnerability discovery, malware analysis and classification, and improved defenses and mitigations.

The purpose, however, is to develop automated software analysis that can help eliminate vulnerabilities before the software is deployed and the vulnerabilities exploited. “We rely on the structures of the online world as much as we depend on physical infrastructure and utilities,” explained David Delpy, EPSRC's chief executive. “Academic research that both evaluates threats and devises appropriate defenses and safeguards is vital to our national and personal security.”

This is the second such research institute. The first was established in September 2012 focused on the ‘Science of Cyber Security’. Last year, GCHQ together with the Research Councils’ Global Uncertainties Programme (RCUK) and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) also conferred the title ‘academic centre of excellence [ACE] in cyber security research’ on eight different universities.

The ACE initiative is designed to recognise and support existing areas of strength in the universities. The research institutes, however, are targeted at specific areas of strategic importance for the national economy.

It is all part of the various departments’ response to the UK government’s Cyber Security Strategy. “This institute,” commented David Willetts, minister for universities and science, “will build on the UK's global reputation for cyber security research and innovation. It complements wider work government is doing in partnership with academia and industry to boost the economy through improved cyber security.”

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