A team of researchers at Queen's University Belfast’s Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) is working to develop futuristic communications systems that could help protect frontline troops.Building on work completed recently for the UK Ministry of Defence, the project is aimed at investigating the use of arrays of highly specialised antennas that could be worn by combat troops to provide covert short-range person-to-person battleground communications.

The project could lead to the development of advanced wireless systems that would enable small squads of soldiers to share real-time video, covert surveillance data and tactical information with each other via helmet mounted visors.The equipment would bring major benefits to members of the armed forces by providing high levels of situational awareness in hostile environments as well as helping to preserve the element of surprise in close encounters with an enemy.

Details of the project have just appeared in IEEE Communications Magazine - one of the most authoritative international academic publications in the field.

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Leading edge research that will help keep crime off the internet and combat anti-social behaviour and street crime is to be unveiled today at the official opening of the UK’s lead cyber security research centre.
The new £30 million Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s University Belfast’s Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology, has been set up to exploit the university’s international research expertise in high performance data and network security and intelligent surveillance.
The centre is one of the first Innovation and Knowledge Centres (IKCs) created in the UK. Funders include the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Technology Strategy Board. In addition, to date, 20 organisations have committed to support CSIT’s work over the next five years. They include industrial partners such as BAE Systems and Thales UK as well as government agencies and international research institutes.
One of CSIT’s fundamental challenges is to develop systems to be deployed at the core of next generation computer and telecoms networks to provide much higher levels of protection than is possible with the Internet security tools installed on today’s PCs.
Making this a reality will require significant advances in high-performance network and content processing technology – two research areas for which Queen’s University has earned an international reputation.
Building on this work, CSIT is developing powerful processors capable of screening huge volumes of data - equivalent to the Internet traffic produced by over 10,000 households - for malicious content and behavior in real time.
The processors are the most advanced of their kind and are ideally suited for use at the heart of sophisticated systems controlled by complex sets of rules. These can be written to prevent identity theft and fraud or to protect children from on-line grooming. When an on-line security risk or crime is identified, they will be capable of triggering an immediate response.
CSIT is liaising with a variety of crime and behavioural specialists to create these rule sets and expects to have prototype technology available within three years.
Other major projects underway at CSIT include the development of ultra high performance hardware-based cryptography systems to provide high levels of data security in real time across high speed fixed, mobile and ad hoc networks of devices such as RFID tags. It is anticipated the research will lead to major advances in the secure transmission and storage of data.
By bringing together a wide range of security related research fields and technologies under one roof, CSIT is also aiming to pioneer the convergence of network, data and physical security through the development of new technologies and systems. This work is expected to lead to significant improvements in the effectiveness of CCTV technology in combating anti-social behaviour and street crime.  
Currently, while much criminal activity is captured by the UK’s four million CCTV cameras, very little is observed in real time because of the high cost of employing sufficient numbers of people to monitor activity on screens. This means that while the data they generate may be used to help prosecute offenders, it is of little value in preventing a crime before it occurs.
CSIT aims to tackle this problem by using innovative hardware and software designed to analyse CCTV camera data in real time. Researchers will also address ways of making best use of that information across a variety of secure communications networks.  It is hoped this will enable the development of high performance systems capable of monitoring CCTV footage and automatically alerting security analysts to events that represent a potential security breach or criminal act.
CSIT’s research also covers specific areas which have been identified as being of strategic national security importance in major reports produced recently by the British and American governments.
Professor John McCanny, principal investigator at CSIT, believes the new centre is set to become globally recognised thanks to the breadth and depth of its technological capabilities and because it represents a new international paradigm for innovation.
“It is really only now that the international community is beginning to tackle cyber security in a co-ordinated way. Our work at CSIT is therefore of fundamental importance at this critical time in the development of the Internet. It’s like being in on the ground floor at the beginning of the semiconductor industry.
“CSIT has an excellent technology platform based on world-leading expertise at Queen’s University and ECIT. Our approach to exploiting the commercial and economic benefits of these strengths represents a major advance on how UK universities have attempted this in the past.
“The approach adopted within CIST contrasts with the more conventional way academic research is undertaken. Our starting points tend to be larger “mission-driven” projects involving sizeable teams for which ambitious and challenging end goals have been identified.
“In addition, CSIT has a strong entrepreneurial ethos with a novel commercialisation process built into our management structure. This enables our researchers to work effectively alongside potential customers and specialists from industry and other academic institutions. We are confident that in this way, we will be able to fast track the development of marketable applications of our technologies to the benefit of UK industry and the wider economy as a whole,” adds Professor McCanny.

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23/09/2009 - Pioneering Cyber-security Centre to Transform Crime Prevention