Protecting society from cyber threats

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Cyber security is a rapidly growing challenge with new sophisticated zero-day attacks costing the economy billions of pounds every year. But the scale of the problem, fast growth and technical nature of cyber-attacks is widening the cyber security skills gap. 

The School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences is working on this challenge through its PROTECT Centre, alongside a Higher Education Academy (HEA) funded project called VIBRANT. Through this they are set to host the first UK workshop on Cybersecurity Training & Education, bringing together academics, students and practitioners in order to combat emerging cyber threats.

The VIBRANT project and the workshop aims to develop a platform for simulating real-world security situations and problems for learning and teaching of cyber security. Ideas are already being exchanged through research papers, industrial presentations and students’ demos and cover different aspects of cyber security education such as the cyber security curriculum, teaching and learning methods, training tools, support and learning environments.

VIBRANT has hosted additional events which give Masters Computer Security students the opportunity to work with the HEA, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), universities and colleges and companies such as XyoneCyberSecurity that work with businesses to make them as resilient as possible to cyber attacks. 

Dr Kashif Kifayat, project leader for VIBRANT and programme leader for BSc Cyber Security commented:

"At LJMU we have been involved in cyber security research for around 20 years, and this is now focussed through the PROTECT centre. We want to address the shortage of cyber security skills and future proof the country’s IT sector, making it more resilient to possible cyber-attacks.

"Our research expertise gives us a strong base for teaching in cyber security, but when we talk to companies and practitioners in cyber security it is obvious how the pace of change in real-world problems and responses create tough challenges for teaching and learning – a skills gap. With the VIBRANT project we can narrow that gap."

The VIBRANT project has three major targets to achieve: platform development to enhance student practical skills, pedagogic research to improve different aspects of teaching, and a national networking event (yearly workshop) to share ideas and knowledge among students, academics, and enterprises.

This workshop is unique in its nature as compared to all the previous workshops held in the UK as it brings three groups of important stakeholders: academics, companies, and students, together to contribute to the UK cyber security education and training.

Professor Qi Shi LJMU Professor in Computer Security and Head of Research added:

"We believe there have been communication gaps between these stakeholders, which are directly affecting the UK growth in the areas. Therefore, there is a crucial need for such information sharing activities. The workshop will not only allow students, academics and companies to network but give an opportunity to academics to share their research and allow companies to share their industrial experience, and highlight current and future practical skills required by them. Students will also get an opportunity to demonstrate their skills by presenting their work in cyber security and digital forensics."

The School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences has a rich research base and in the latest research assessment (REF2014) 48% of its research was ranked as being internationally excellent, whilst 80% was rated as high impact in terms of reach and significance.

Further information is available here 


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