Published 20 Jun 2020

The government has announced the successful applicants for its Digital Security by Design programme, which was initiated last year to encourage the development of innovative solutions for enhancing UK organisations’ ability to withstand cyberattacks.

The winning applicants are spread over a diverse range of technologies. Each winning team is now expected to use the funding to develop their proposed solutions and build practical applications and other software that will withstand or mitigate cybercriminals’ attempts to compromise systems. A working prototype of each solution will ultimately be produced, with each clearly showing the benefits it can bring for the economy and society. The programme is part of a series of initiatives from the UK government, which has committed to increasing its research and development investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

Among the successful applicants is the University of Glasgow, which intends to improve its leading-edge microprocessor technology. With the help of the new funding, it intends to develop its technology in a way that will ensure the digital security of critical systems like nuclear power stations, autonomous cars, and medical robots.

The University of Southampton also won funding for its HD-sec solution, which seeks to develop formal software design methods that will guide developers in creating secure applications from the start rather than relying on fixing vulnerabilities as they arise. Professor Michael Butler, the principle investigator for the project, said about this:

“Our vision is the transformation of security system development from an error-prone, iterative build-test-fix approach to a correctness-by-construction approach whereby formal methods guide the design of software in such a way that it satisfies its specification by construction.”

He predicted that the general impact of this will be lower development costs over the lifecycle of a product while increasing its reliability, especially for critical systems.

Oliver Dowden—the UK Government Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport—made the announcement at London Tech Week Connect, a virtual series of events that has been held in place of the London Tech Week Festival, which has been pushed back to September due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Dowden said about the winning projects:

“We have a world-class cybersecurity 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.”

With a future likely to see increasing degrees of automation and connectivity, it is essential for researchers to develop ways to ensure machines can run securely without potential interference from cybercriminals. Back in today’s world, though, cybercrime is already a very real problem. At Pro-Networks, our IT support and services can provide your organisation with a solution that will protect it against current threats in a range of different scenarios, as well as deal with future threats as they arise.


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