Tom Keighley

Industry and academic consortium tackle cyber threat solutions

A consortium of industry and academia, led by defence technology specialists QinetiQ, have demonstrated innovative measures designed to protect the Ministry of Defence from cyber attacks.

The new methods were selected following a research call by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s Centre for Defence Enterprise.

Named Enabling Secure Information Infrastructure (ESII) comprises 11 suppliers, including major defence contractors, UK universities and SMEs.

ESII was commissioned by Dstl to build a test bed based on restricted ‘cloud’ architecture, a software model from which multiple users can access files, programs, applications and services remotely.

The architecture was then used to provide a secure collaboration environment for the test and evaluation of concepts, tools and techniques to improve awareness.

CDE research has called for proposals to address Enhanced Situational Awareness, Countering Sophisticated Attacks, Decision Support for Network Defence and Co-operative working for Network Defence.

Nine proposals involving a total of eleven suppliers were successful following the CDE call, and were funded by Dstl for a two phase programme.

The first phase encouraged suppliers to formulate the technical aspects of their proposals, leading to the production of a technical design paper which was assessed and agreed with MoD before the phase 2 demonstrations could commence.

These suppliers include HW Comms Ltd, Brunel University, Northrop Grumman, University of Oxford, University of Warwick, University of Glamorgan, Cassidian Systems, Montvieux Ltd, Roke Manor Research, Thales R&T Ltd and EADS Innovation Works Ltd.

Proposals ranged from solutions that could identify and counter sophisticated network intrusion attacks through to the ability to analysis and visualise information to support and improve the decision making ability of an operator.

Tim Dean from QinetiQ’s Information Assurance division said: “Having an awareness of the situation and potential cyber threats will save costs and allow the UK to react to such threats quickly and effectively.

“Developing an awareness of potential cyber threats and the actions that could be taken to counter them will enable the MOD to react quickly and effectively and result in potential cost savings.”

Dr Dario Leslie, Dstl’s Head of the Cyber and Influence Science and Technology Centre said: “The ability to test cyber security concepts in this way helps Dstl and the eleven suppliers understand the types of sophisticated threats and situations we may experience in real life, helping the MoD to improve its capabilities in cyberspace.

“It is anticipated that this will lead to better prediction of the types of threat we may encounter and a more effective reaction to such threats.”

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