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The impact of the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT)

The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) is a national cybersecurity research institute based at Queen’s emphasising research excellence combined with a unique model for, and focus on, commercialisation and innovation.

CSIT plays a key role in Northern Ireland’s cybersecurity ecosystem through the development of incubator programmes, start-ups and attracting foreign direct investment which had led to the creation of approximately 1600 jobs in this sector.

Research Challenge


CSIT's mission is to produce significant high-quality impactful research in four key research areas: 

  • Secure connected services 
  • Networked security systems 
  • Industrial control systems 
  • Security intelligence 

CSIT couples major research breakthroughs in the field of secure information technologies with a unique model of innovation and commercialisation to drive economic and societal impact. Cyber security challenges have grown exponentially in the last decade. A safe and secure cyberspace is fundamental to making the UK the safest place in the world to live and work online. 

Our Approach


Industry engagement is at the heart of CSIT. Its unique membership model has seen the development of longstanding advisory and industrial collaborations with global partners including Altera, Allstate, BAE Systems, Cisco, Citi, Direct Line Group, First Derivatives, IBM, Infosys, Intel, McAfee, Roke, Seagate and Thales. This unique Open Innovation model allows research to translate to industry in an agile way, ensuring demonstrable technology is in the hands of end users quickly. Recent examples include:  

  • Partnering with BAE Systems on video based semantic analysis of crowd behaviour for the UK Defence and Security Accelerator  
  • Thales has used CSIT novel Physical Unclonable Functions (PUF) technology in a demonstrator for electronic component anti-counterfeiting  
  • Thales and Dell EMC have both used CSIT practical post-quantum cryptography architectures and software libraries in demonstrators as a first step to commercialisation  
  • A collaboration with TES Group, led to the discovery of a critical vulnerability affecting critical national infrastructure networks globally. As a result the vendor developed a patch ensuring the vulnerability cannot be exploited by hackers  
  • CSIT worked with Linz AG, an electrical distribution company in Austria, to reveal several problems and vulnerabilities in Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) networks  
  • CSIT have developed open source tools for testing the security of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) devices 

“It is our assessment that CSIT, through its research, innovation, commercialisation and ecosystem development activities, has been pivotal in growing the NI cyber security sector since its foundation”  


- The Director of Technology Invest Northern Ireland  

What impact did it make?


CSIT has formed the centre of a local cybersecurity ecosystem that includes over forty companies, accounting for 1600 jobs in the sector. 

In 2019 NI was the named the No.1 destination for foreign direct investment in cyber security for US companies CSIT has been pivotal to this, through its foreign direct investment engagement with, and provision of talent for, major sector players from the US and beyond.  

“CSIT have played a critical role in not only developing the world class cyber ecosystem in Northern Ireland, but are an integral part of the wider UK cyber growth and innovation landscape, contributing strongly to the support of DCMS programmes in this area. This is further recognised by their reputation internationally as an exemplar for the role of academia in cyber innovation and ecosystem development” 

In 2017 CSIT co-founded the international Ecosystem of Ecosystems Partnership in Innovation and Cyber Security (Global EPIC), which now has 30 Members in 17 countries, and has launched a global soft landing programme enabling trade and investment opportunities for UK cyber security companies. 

Our impact

Impact related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Learn more about Queen’s University’s commitment to nurturing a culture of sustainability and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through research and education.

UN Goal 09 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Key Facts

  • Established in 2009, CSIT is at the centre of Northern Ireland’s Cyber Security ecosystem 

  • CSIT is the UK’s only Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC) for cybersecurity

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John McCanny
School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Maire O'Neill
School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Vincent Fusco
School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Sakir Sezer
School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Cyberspace ResilienceIntelligent manufacturing and service deliveryNetworks and Connectivity