Cardiff academic wins GCHQ Fellowship

A Cardiff University researcher has won a prestigious Fellowship for National Resilience with GCHQ - the UK’s world-leading intelligence, cyber and security agency.

Dr Charith Perera , School of Computer Science and Informatics , will work with the National Security community to deliver a major research project designed to detect and prevent cyberattacks on smart buildings.

The Senior Lecturer currently manages a team of ten researchers focusing on privacy and security within the Internet of Things - one of GCHQ’s key challenge themes.

The six-month Fellowship has been developed in partnership with The Landing - the tech and innovation hub at the heart of Manchester’s MediaCityUK.

One of only four such awards from GCHQ, the support will allow Dr Perera to build industry partnerships and wider collaboration.

Dr Perera said: “I am truly delighted and honoured to have been awarded this opportunity to work closely with GCHQ, who are recognised leaders in the field. The Fellowship will enable me to fully focus on research activities and direct research outcomes from our innovation academic research to solve real-world solutions.’

The funding will allow Dr Perera to develop a secondary IoT sensor network in smart buildings, combining sensors data and state-of-the-art deep learning techniques to detect anomalies.

“The experience and the relationships I develop during this fellowship will help me to create a wider impact collaboratively not only related to this fellowship project but also related projects conducted within my team.’

GCHQ Director General for Technology Gav Smith said: “For more than 100 years we’ve stayed a step ahead of our adversaries to help keep the country safe by harnessing ideas from a diverse mix of minds.

“Today we face an increasing number threats in an ever-more complex world. It is vitally important that we continue to deepen our understanding of those threats as we pioneer a new kind security for the UK.’

“That’s why we’re working with and investing in some of the most brilliant minds from academia to equip ourselves with cutting edge research to better tackle the biggest national security challenges facing us today and in the future.’

Cardiff University works in close collaboration with GCHQ through Cardiff University’s Centre for Cyber Security Research (CCSR) - a leading UK academic research unit for cyber security analytics accredited as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACE-CSR) by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre - the first institution in Wales to win this accolade.

Professor Pete Burnap, Director of the CCSR, said: “We are delighted Dr Perera has won this wonderful opportunity through GCHQ to pursue pure research, and allow him to test his work in situ through simulation and modelling. We hope his approach will form the basis of cybersecurity systems that protect everything from core national infrastructure - water and electricity installations - to the vehicles and automotive systems of the future, which fits with the Centre’s ethos of solving real-world problems.’