UK unveils government-backed research center for IoT security

The UK has unveiled a government-backed national IoT research center with a specific focus on cybersecurity. The country hopes to take a lead in knowledge about how to secure the data collected, in future, by huge numbers of IoT devices and sensors, hence the establishment of the new facility, labelled Petras 2 (privacy, ethics, trust, reliability, acceptability, and security) IoT Centre of National Excellence.

This seems in keeping with the current trend of governments becoming increasingly concerned by and interested in IoT security, with new legislation, funding, and research projects on the cards as potential solutions to a very thorny problem.

The new center, led by a professor from University College London, is part of a government initiative to explore how to design out cyber threats and vulnerabilities in any kind of IT hardware. This is particularly critical in the IoT because of the volume, and dispersed nature, of the items of equipment that could be used in a large-scale network.

The program was first announced in January, with the aim of supporting hardware designs that will be inherently more secure from the start, and which incorporate protections right down to chip level.

Among the initial areas of research will be threats that arise, or are worsened, by the implementation of edge computing and artificial intelligence to support the IoT and other systems.

“The center’s ultimate aim is, by creating a trustworthy and secure infrastructure for the Internet of things, to deliver a step change in socio-economic benefit for the UK with visible improvements for citizen wellbeing and quality of life,” said Jeremy Watson, Petras director and professor at UCL’s department of science, technology, engineering and public policy (STEaPP).

Petras 2 is the second phase of the Petras project, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as part of the a broader program called Security Digital Technologies at the Periphery. Since phase 1 was kicked off in 2016, 11 universities and 110 industrial and government partners have been involved.