Northern Ireland

Queen's launches cyber-security hub

Wi-fi security graphic Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Some of the research will focus on how we can keep hackers out of our homes

A £5m research institute to help improve hardware security is being launched at Queen's University.

The project will tackle cyber threats in smart technology.

One focus will be on how to keep hackers out of our homes: Everything from Wi-Fi kettles to network-connected cars are potential targets for hackers.

An increase in the use of smart devices means there are now many new attack methods and surfaces for criminals and hackers to exploit.

Recent attacks against personal computers, mobile devices and smart meters have posed serious security and privacy issues.

Counterfeit devices are also an issue, which could lead to cloned hardware giving hackers opportunities to exploit security weaknesses.

The Research Institute in Secure Hardware and Embedded Systems (RISE) at Queen's is one of four cyber security institutes in the UK, and will be a global hub for research and innovation in hardware security over the next five years.

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Media captionRory Cellan-Jones discovers how a kettle could put you at risk from hackers

It will be funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

One of its aims is to bring together the UK's hardware security community and build a network of national and international research partnerships.

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Media captionConnected toys could also put your personal security at risk

"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," said RISE director Prof O'Neill.

A leading cryptography expert at Queen's, Prof O'Neill was selected to head the institute after a competitive call in March by EPSRC and NCSC for a new hardware security research institute.

Based at the Centre for Secure Information Technologies at Queen's, Prof O'Neill will work towards increasing the nation's academic capability in all fields of hardware security.

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Media captionTechnology explained: What is the internet of things?

RISE will tackle the global problem of cyber threats through four initial projects, led by UK research partners from Queen's University, and the universities of Cambridge, Bristol and Birmingham.

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