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Kind scholars, wicked problems: Life in a Centre for Doctoral Training in Cybersecurity

Niamh F Healy24 September 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated our reliance on digital technologies as we have used them to work, to stay in contact with friends and family, and even to tackle the virus itself. The use of these technologies is not without risks however, as shown in the increase in cyber-attacks during the pandemic.

UCL’s Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Cybersecurity is a new initiative set up to train the next generation of thinkers who will tackle these issues of cybersecurity and emerging technology. The Centre is formed across three UCL departments – Computer Science, Security and Crime Science, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) – reflecting the program’s cross-disciplinary intentions. The CDT is founded on the acknowledgement that issues of cybersecurity and emerging technologies necessitate thinkers who can navigate disciplinary boundaries, for problems of cybersecurity cannot be neatly contained within one subject box. I am a member of the CDT’s first cohort and have just finished my first year of the four-year programme. It has been a fascinating albeit challenging year!

CDT in Cybersecurity cohort

CDT in Cybersecurity cohort

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COVID-19: IoT and Cybersecurity

fredrikskippervold27 August 2020

Fredrik Johan Skippervold is a UCL MPA Graduate within Digital Technologies and Policy 18/19. He holds a Bachelor of Law with Spanish and is currently a researcher in the PETRAS National Centre of Excellence for IoT Systems Cybersecurity.

Introduction

Over the past four months (April – July) my colleague Dr Catherine Wheller and I have been following the impacts of COVID-19 on cybersecurity and the Internet of Things (IoT) within the UK and beyond. The pandemic has inspired a range of IoT innovations to help stop the spread of the virus. We have written weekly landscape briefings (LB) that provide up to date information on the latest developments in this area. In this blog I will talk about how we set about collecting information and how we put together these reports, as well as highlight some of the major developments which include discussions surrounding privacy and ethics. To note, a final summary briefing will be posted alongside this blogpost. The summary, which can be found here, includes a detailed timeline of events, provides an overview of how IoT devices are helping to stop the spread of the virus (UK and globally) and presents discussions around so-called ‘immunity passports’.

Cybersecurity

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Play-acting as Cyber Experts for a Day: The Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge

jay6 March 2020

By Natalia Maj, Jay Neuner, Jiehui Song and Malla Tedroff

Sleepless nights, ever-changing information and high-stress briefings to senior officials, business leaders and policy makers – sounds like a dream job, no? The Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge gave our Unbreakable Cyber League team a 48-hour taste of just this life as cyber security experts, with all it entails.

The Unbreakable Cyber League

The Unbreakable Cyber League – Natalia, Jay, Malla and Jiehui

The Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge, held 17-18 February in the iconic BT Tower, brought together university teams from across the UK to respond to a simulated national cyber security incident. Starting from an initial brief of what has occurred, the teams decide what they’d recommend to ministers and policymakers in charge – and then recalibrate response recommendations again and again as the incident evolves (i.e. worsens) over the competition period.

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A holistic approach to reasoning about the security of critical infrastructure systems

uchennadani13 February 2020

By Dr Uchenna D Ani, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow with the PETRAS National Centre of Excellence for IoT Systems Cybersecurity, UCL STEaPP

Security designs should not consider technical details alone but should capture the bigger picture of the co-interacting participants that provide critical services.

Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) systems need cybersecurity, physical security and personnel security.  CNI systems use networks of diverse technologies (hardware and software) to enable the exchange of data and information. Generally, this involves socio-technical systems (STS) – people interacting with the technology and working together as a single system structured to achieve operational objectives.

IoT

Integrating the internet and the Internet of Things (IoT) with CNI systems enable greater capabilities for remote, autonomous sensing. Integration supports smarter control, monitoring, predictive maintenance, safety, and security management, but the convergence brings new security risks that demand serious attention. Geoff E, of the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), highlights the need to consider such systems as a whole rather than the sum of individual components. A holistic perspective is therefore necessary to achieve more all-embracing security.

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Understanding Intimate Partner Abuse as a Cybersecurity Issue

Siobhan Pipa19 August 2019

By Julia Slupska, Digital Ethics Lab at the University of Oxford

Why isn’t revenge porn a cybersecurity issue? Gendered security threats – such as tech abuse in the context of domestic violence – has often been ignored in the cybersecurity discussion. Julia Slupska – in collaboration with the UCL Gender and IoT Lab – is working on an “intimate threat security review” to address this gap.

Domestic violence and intimate partner abuse (IPA) is a frequent cause of death worldwide. A 2018 UN report found that women are more likely to be killed at home than in any other location.[1] IPA is still highly prevalent in the UK: domestic abuse-related crimes accounted for 32 percent of violent crimes in the year ending March 2017.

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