Research success working with the UK Defence Sector to defend our cyber space

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For the UK Defence Sector, there is an ever-growing need to defend in our cyber space as well as the traditional domains of land, air, space and sea. Understanding the complexities of monitoring cyber space to ensure that an operational mission is a challenging task, that involves collating indicators of compromise and other related sources of information and applying data science skills to aggregate and reason about incoming observations. A team of UWE researchers, led by Professor Phil Legg, are working with Bristol-based TRIMETIS to develop innovation in this domain, and together the team have recently secured £200,000 funding from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) to support two new research projects that address these problems.

The first project seeks to understand the human-machine teaming aspects of how analysts can interrogate and reason about data observations to inform cyber defence. Furthermore, by developing improved human-machine teaming efforts, underpinning by machine learning techniques, will enable improved decision-making in response to cyber threats, and an improved synergy between how machine learning can help to reason about data and improve a human analyst’s workflow, whilst also developing a model to understand how a human analyst will reason about data, such that this can improve the system interaction further. 

The second project seeks to understand how humans can better serve as sensors about the environment to protect and defend against threats. This involves improved reporting mechanisms of threats, both online and offline, and how this information can be integrated within larger data analytics and reasoning platforms about a given mission. The project will seek to understand the barriers of reporting, and how technology can enable better data collection from observers, such that this information can then be better utilised within human-machine based analysis.

The two projects will both launch in January 2023 and will run for 9 months. The resulting outputs will be shared with the defence communities and through wider academic dissemination. This recent set of projects complement the portfolio of work that UWEcyber has conducted with DSTL and the defence community over a number of years, with previous DSTL-funded UWE projects including ARCD (2022), HASTE (2018), and RicherPicture (2015, 2017).

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