The Government is to provide £10 million in funding over the next four years to nine organisations to develop cyber security technologies aimed at helping the tech infrastructure of UK organisations and digital devices be more resilient to hack attacks.
The Digital Security by Design programme, launched last year, is intended to prevent hackers from remotely taking control of digital systems such as autonomous cars, personal computers or smart home security systems as well as tackling cyber attacks and data breaches, to better protect businesses and consumers.
Almost half (46%) of businesses and more than a quarter (26%) of charities have reported experiencing cyber security breaches or attacks in the past 12 months, according to the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2020.
The winning research teams that will share the £10 million investment include the University of Southampton’s HD-Sec solution, which aims to speed up the process of and reduce errors and security vulnerabilities in software design that could have been exploited by hackers.
The University of Glasgow-led AppControl will also receive a share of the fund to use state-of-the-art microprocessors, developed earlier in the programme, to ensure vital systems that could be used in cars, medical robots or nuclear power plants remain digitally secure.
And the University of Birmingham has been awarded funding for leading the digital solution CAP-TEE, which will use prototype microchips to protect systems that shield sensitive, personal data from hackers.
Each team will create a working example of their solution, using the prototype chips, to showcase the economic and societal benefits of their new secure technology.
It is hoped that organisations such as banks, healthcare services or online retailers will use the highly secure software in their day-to-day systems, giving people increased confidence in digital services and reducing costly cyber attacks or data breaches for businesses.
Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "We have a world-class cyber security sector and together we are working hard to make sure the UK is the safest place to work, connect and live online.
"With Government support these projects will build cutting-edge, secure technologies that will give people and businesses further confidence in our digital services and help weaken the threat of cyber attackers."
The funding forms part of the Government’s commitment to increase investment in R&D by 2.4% of GDP by 2027. Earlier this week, ministers unveiled a new £24 million education programme to boost the number of graduates with artificial intelligence and data science skills, with a focus on students from diverse backgrounds.
UK Research & Innovation works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish.
The organisation’s challenge director for Digital Security by Design John Goodacre said: "This programme will radically update the security foundations of the digital computing infrastructure that underpins the entire economy. I’m honoured that these leading universities and researchers have aligned their expertise to this challenge.
"These projects will increase the knowledge and skills around this new technology, as well as research the opportunities this fundamental change offers to the security of computers across business and society in the future."