Warding Off EU’s Sophisticated Attacks

Friday, May 8, 2015 @ 05:05 PM gHale

There is a new push in Europe to fight off increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks.

A new project called SAFEcrypto will draw together cryptographers and other IT experts from Germany, France, Switzerland, Britain and Ireland to devise urgent security solutions capable of withstanding attack from the next generation of hackers.

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The project, led by Queen’s University Belfast, will focus on an acute threat from emerging technologies including ‘quantum computers’ – capable of processing information much faster than silicon-based computers used today.

The project, which will run for four years at a cost of €3.8 million ($4.3 million), will concentrate on three main areas:
• Protecting information passed via satellites
• Protecting public-safety communications systems, eg those used by police, fire and ambulance services
• Safeguarding the privacy of data collected by municipal authorities

“(Centre for Secure Information Technologies) CSIT was among the first centers in the UK to be recognized as a center of academic excellence in cyber security research in 2012, and it is a natural progression for us to start working on a larger, pan-European stage,” said project lead professor Máire O’Neill from the CSIT at Queen’s. “Horizon 2020 has given us the opportunity to form a project consortium which is a true partnership between industry and academia.”

“Organizations are steadily increasing the level of spending on encryption products to protect their intellectual property and to maintain the privacy of customer details and personal information,” said O’Neill, who earned a UK Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal in 2014 and who is a former British Female Inventor of the Year (2007). “It is estimated that 25 percent of enterprises globally operate an internal public key encryption infrastructure (PKI). We believe these present day PKI systems will become vulnerable to attack by a new form of very powerful quantum computers in the near future.”

SAFEcrypto represents the first major project in Northern Ireland using funding from Horizon 2020, the biggest EU research and innovation program ever developed.

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