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Who is a risk to your research?

The Centre for Prevention of National Infrastructure (CPNI) defines a hostile state as “one whose democratic and ethical values are different from our own and whose strategic intent is hostile to the UK”.

Objectives of hostile states may include:

  • Ensuring regime stability by such means as discouraging opposition
  • Ensure economic and military superiority over other nations through the development of their research and innovation sector
  • Utilise technology and military advances against their own citizens to maintain regime stability

International collaboration provides hostile state actors the ability to access research whilst bypassing traditional espionage and cyber-attacks.  This global collaboration can permit those with dishonourable intentions access to individuals, networks and sensitive research.

Should a hostile state actor acquire your research, though legitimate or illegal means, the consequences may apply both to you as in individual but also the University as a whole.  Repercussions may include loss of trust and integrity, financial loss, and reputational loss.

Is your research at risk from exploitation?

  • Does your research have the potential for patentable technology or is it commercially sensitive?
  • Is your research associated with sensitive defence or national security technology?
  • Does your research have the potential to be exploited for future dual-use (military and non-military) or unethical applications (e.g. internal surveillance and repression)?
  • Does your research include sensitive data or personally identifiable information that you must protect? E.g. commercial test data, details of individuals, genetic or medical information or population datasets.
  • Is your research likely to be subject to UK or other foreign nation’s Export Control requirements?

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How do you protect your research?

To ensure both continued international collaboration and protection of your research, the below actions are needed:

  • Partner Due diligence – including review of sanction lists and adverse media
  • Consideration of Conflict of Interest – including existing partners to University
  • Management of Access – control access to sensitive data and security of partner/third party sharing platforms
  • Legal Framework – including Export Control, arms embargoes, compliance with foreign jurisdiction and GDPR implications etc
For further practical information regarding the implementation of these measures please refer to the CPNI guidance.