Queen’s University Belfast signs Infosys to test cyber security IP

The government-backed centre of excellence is concerned about the ‘commercialisation of research’

Queen's University Belfast, one of the government's sponsored centres of excellence in cyber security research, has signed a new partnership with Infosys to help it better develop intellectual property (IP) and products that can be used in real-life business scenarios.

The three-year agreement will lead to the creation of a Queen's University Belfast's Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) -Infosys Cyber Lab that will become part of a global network of companies and institutions developing security technologies.

As part of the CSIT advisory and governing board, Infosys will play a key role in developing the centre's research roadmap and gain access to its research and technologies for commercial usage.

Infosys will also work with CSIT to promote joint research projects and sponsor PhD scholarships, internships and exchange programmes. They will work on advanced concepts in data privacy, cloud, contemporary web application and wireless security as well as intelligent surveillance systems.

However, the main purpose of the partnership is to help CSIT 'commercialise' the research it carries out, ensuring that it fits a need in the market and can be used by the industry to protect against cyber-crime.

Computerworld UK spoke to Dr. Godfrey Gaston, CSIT Director, who said that this was his biggest concern and the main reason behind bringing on vendors as members.

"The biggest challenge is making sure that we are internationally connected, not just looking at local issues, and that what we work on is market-focused and relevant to industry. All of the IP we develop is made available free of charge to member companies - we don't want to do research for the sake of it," said Gaston.

"We have a number of commercial partners, but Infosys is the first international one. We will meet with them four times a year and they have an opportunity to drive the research agenda. Infosys is a global player in the IT services and cyber area and so they have a great opportunity to give us this market focus we are looking for."

The partnership will aim to develop solutions and intellectual property for combatting cyber security threats arising out of the rise of digital and Cloud-based business models. Infosys and CSIT will work jointly on a range of topics including combatting malware, security of mobile and cloud infrastructures, and privacy issues for financial markets.

Subu Goparaju , SVP at Infosys Labs and Products R&D, said that the partnership would allow CSIT to have its research tested in real business environments.

"We work with more than 700 companies around the world, all of which are big users of ICT. We can bring in a lot of the security concerns that our clients are experiencing. Also, as some of these solutions come out, we will be able to try them out in controlled environments - whether that be in our environment or in one of our client's. We will be able to bring that feedback to the table," said Goparaju.

CSIT was given £50,000 by the government to carry out its research into cyber security. Infosys told Computerworld UK that it plans to invest further money into the centre, but couldn't confirm how much at this stage. Dr. Gaston said that the government's investments to date were promising, but that the research would benefit from additional funds.

"An academic centre of excellence would always like to have more money. I think the government's commitment is a great step forward compared to where we were a few years ago, but from our point of view we would be keen for more money to be made available," said Gaston.

Commenting on the Queen's Infosys partnership, Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: "The UK is recognised as a world-leader in combating cybercrime and has real competitive and technology advantages in this field. The work at Queen's University's CSIT, which I have seen at first hand, is a tangible example of our expertise in this area and I welcome its latest partnership with Infosys. It will be good for Infosys, good for Queen's University and good for the interests of all our households and businesses in both our countries."

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