Queen’s University Belfast is hailing a new £500,000 facility which will help academics and industry partners carry out testing and advanced research.
The state-of-the-art cybersecurity research lab is housed in the university’s Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) and features a multi-gigabit optical fiber network.
The high-speed network will provide new capabilities to carry out application and appliance pen testing, reverse engineering and advanced malware monitoring, according to the university.
Attack replay and monitoring functionality will also support research into DDoS attacks, it added.
“The CSIT Test Lab is one of the first UK-wide research infrastructures providing an experimental playground for both academia and industry to collaborate, innovate and share equipment, tools, experiments and data-sets,” claimed professor Sakir Sezer, head of connected systems security at CSIT.
“By combining all the new capabilities, the lab facilitates a highly configurable platform for many widespread communication technologies, enabling state-of-the-art ‘capture the flag’ and other red/blue tea’ cybersecurity challenge games and specialized cybersecurity staff training.”
A custom-built Cyber Range will enable researchers to connect remotely and share the facilities ad hoc with partners in other parts of the world, he continued.
The test network has been built using the latest equipment on the market, including Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualisation NFV appliances, and support for industrial control systems (ICS) for smart grid and manufacturing.
ICS threats in particular are on the rise: with up to 30% of installations facing attack in the second half of 2017, according to Kaspersky Lab.
State-backed Russian hackers in particular have been ramping up attacks against this kind of critical infrastructure, with the NCSC and US authorities releasing a joint technical alert to this effect in April.
The new research lab at Queen’s will also include a focus on more consumer-based IoT devices, including home IP Security cameras, health monitors, smart watches, home automation, logistic devices, PCs, phones and tablets.