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Consortium wins human security bid

Posted on 26/03/2007
Members of Royal Holloway, University of London's Information Security Group (ISG) and the Psychology department, along with consultants to the ISG, have been chosen to be part of a newly developed programme designed to investigate the human factor in online security threats.

The investigation will look at internet users' vulnerability to fraudulent schemes, viruses and hacking, as well helping to stop so much of the information theft that could so easily be avoided with the right knowledge.

“Social Engineering is arguably the biggest threat to your bank account” says Professor Fred Piper, Consultant to the ISG; “You may hear clichés such as ′computers don't commit crimes, people do′, and the problem is - they're true. That's why it's so important that we get involved in human factors.”

The programme, developed under the UK Government-funded Cyber Security Knowledge Transfer Network, is managed and directed by QinetiQ, a leading international defence and security technology company. It brings together 11 leading researchers from the fields of technology and human security, as well as eight security researchers from leading UK companies including BT, HP, Microsoft and Vodafone.

Lizzie Coles-Kemp, a consultant for the ISG and tutor in Security Management and Standards and Evaluation Criteria at the College, is one of the researchers participating in the project. Lizzie completed an MSc in Information Security at Royal Holloway, and her research areas include risk assessment, organisation theory, as well as IT in management systems.

Commenting on the collaborative nature of the project, she said, “We are very excited about how the project allows us to undertake Information Security research with other disciplines including Computer Science, Social Science and even Criminology.”

Dr Marco Cinnirella, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology adds: “This is an excellent opportunity to synthesise psychological research on beliefs, social influence and communication with relevant interconnected work in other disciplines such as Information Security. It presents an ideal vehicle for forging productive collaborations between researchers in these and related fields.”

With the involvement of the Psychology Department, the project hopes to answer the questions surrounding human vulnerability and susceptibility to cons and online scams, which often only require human ignorance in order to be spread and become a massive problem.

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