A major, new initiative to explore the growing area of cyber security and to examine the knock-on effects on society - legal, ethical and cultural - is to be established at Queen's University Belfast.
The Leverhulme Interdisciplinary Network on Cybersecurity and Society (LINCS) will bring together researchers from two of Queen's world-class centres of excellence: the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) and the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice (ISCTSJ).
A grant of over £1 million from the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships scheme, matched by funding from Queen's, will provide 30 doctoral students with three-year scholarships for LINCS, over the next eight years, in a clear demonstration of how Queen's research impacts on society.
The first cohort of researchers will look at ten different areas of study; for example, how increasingly stringent border controls and information-sharing between different jurisdictions may impact on people's mobility. Other areas of focus will include the use of surveillance such as drones and how it affects an individual's right to privacy and the trust and authentication threats posed by the 'internet of things'.
Director of ISCTSJ, Professor Hastings Donnan FBA said: "This project will offer a challenging, stimulating and integrated academic environment within which a new generation of scholars can pursue truly interdisciplinary research on pressing issues of global significance. It's a precondition of Leverhulme that research must be groundbreaking and it's a measure of its confidence in this project that Queen's has matched the Leverhulme funding. This scheme will not only reinforce the interdisciplinary links that already exist between CSIT and ISCTSJ but will open up new avenues of inquiry, allowing researchers to develop new collaborations."
Secure Digital Systems Director at CSIT, Professor Sakir Sezer said: "Researchers in CSIT recognise the social, legal and ethical implications of the future technologies they are developing and of their likely impact on social relations. Researchers in ISCTSJ similarly appreciate that interdisciplinary collaboration with scientists is essential if they are to anticipate the ethical, legal, political and psychological challenges raised by emerging technologies. LINCS will provide an integrated academic network for the next generation of scholars working in this area."
CSIT is the UK's Innovation and Knowledge Centre for secure information technologies and is housed within the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology at Queen's University. The work of both CSIT AND ISCTSJ is multi award-winning and was instrumental in Queen's being placed in the top ten in the UK for research intensity in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework assessment exercise.
The first cohort of LINCS researchers will begin work in September.
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