UK Hails £5m Hardware Security Research Center

A new research institute was opened at Queen’s University Belfast yesterday with aspirations to become a world leading center in the field of hardware and embedded systems security.

The £5m ($6.7m) Research Institute in Secure Hardware and Embedded Systems (RISE) is located at the university’s Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT).

However, projects will be led by experts at Queen’s as well as research partners from the University of Cambridge, University of Bristol and University of Birmingham.

It is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), with cryptography expert Maire O’Neill selected as its director.

“RISE is in an excellent position to become the go-to place for high quality hardware security research. A key aim is to bring together the hardware security community in the UK and build a strong network of national and international research partnerships,” she said in a statement.

“We will also work closely with leading UK-based industry partners and stakeholders, transforming research findings into products, services and business opportunities, which will benefit the UK economy.”

As one of four cybersecurity institutes in the UK, RISE is being touted as a future hub for global research and innovation in the field of hardware and embedded security.

There’s certainly a market demand for ways to improve security by design in such products.

The Mirai attacks of last year highlighted for the first time just how exposed many commercial IoT devices are to hackers — with potentially significant impacts.

Earlier this year, former Trend Micro CTO Raimund Genes called on the European Union to develop and enforce new smart device security standards for the region, after the vendor’s research revealed that millions of embedded and connected systems in the US are exposed to the public internet.

“I think that the inclusion of hardware-based security capabilities in commodity devices could be a game changer in our fight to reduce the harm of cyber-attacks and so I’m really pleased to see a strong set of initial research projects,” argued NCSC technical director, Ian Levy.

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