date and time icon Mon, 03 Jun 2024

Edinburgh Napier recognised as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Education

Edinburgh Napier University has officially received a Gold Award as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Education (ACE-CSE) from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

The University joins just 11 other institutions in being Gold Award accredited, and is one of only two universities in Scotland that has had its work in cyber security education recognised in this way.

The NCSC is part of GCHQ - the UK’s intelligence, security and cyber agency - with a Gold Award acknowledging the key role higher education institutions play in promoting the advancement of cyber security, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Edinburgh Napier’s ACE-CSE is based in School of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment and is co-directed by leading academics Associate Professor Rich Macfarlane and Professor Bill Buchanan OBE.

The Centre runs several NCSC-certified cyber security courses, including an undergraduate degree and GA degree. It has three certified Masters programmes based on its pioneering MSc Cyber Security course, which will celebrate its 15th anniversary next year. The courses are ran from its home at the heart of the University’s Merchiston campus.

The strengths of Edinburgh Napier’s ACE-CSE are far reaching with the Gold Award also noting its team’s impressive outreach work both across the University and in the public.

Externally, the Centre has worked closely with Schools, the public and key industry, law enforcement and government stakeholders for a number of years, playing a pivotal role in breaking down barriers and helping shape policy and approach to cyber security.

School events and an annual Christmas cyber lecture – all run by ACE-CSE team members – have been established as key events in the Cyber Security calendar in Scotland and are attended by hundreds each year. ACE-CSE staff have also been involved with CyberFirst – a programme intended to inspire and encourage school children from diverse backgrounds to consider a career in cyber security – for nearly a decade.

Internally, the ACE-CSE is more than just simply part of the School of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment. It is integrated with many facets of the University to help make it both a safer and more vibrant place to study and work.

It’s also home to ENUSEC – Edinburgh Napier University’s Cyber Security Society. The Society was formed in 2015 and continues to go from strength to strength with more than 120 active members and a regular programme of student-led and industry-focused events, including its annual Le Tour De Hack conference and capture the flag event held every summer.

The Edinburgh Napier ACE-CSE core team also closely works with Edinburgh Napier’s own Information Services team to enhance the University’s robust defences against cyber-attacks.

Its research also continues to innovate and integrate closely with industry and law enforcement, with several tech companies and businesses starting as research work at Edinburgh Napier before spinning out to huge commercial success, including:

  • Cyan Forensics/Cyacomb, started from work by MSc Cyber Security student Phil Penrose, and spun into a highliy successful forensics company by alumni Bruce Ramsay, provides unique tools that enable law enforcement to scan devices for known child abuse or terrorist content up to 100x faster than traditional methods.
  • True Deploy – which helps enterprises improve their software security and protect privacy through innovative distributed ledger and Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) technology – is led by MSc alumnus Pavlos Papadopoulos.
  • ZoneFox – founded by Jamie Graves, from his PhD cyber security work, and which specialised in cloud-based insider threat detection – was acquired by California-based Fortinet in 2018.

Edinburgh Napier Associate Professor Rich Macfarlane, co-director of Edinburgh Napier’s ACE-CSE, is delighted that the range and depth of work that has been undertaken across the School and wider cyber security communities, has been recognised by the NCSC in this way.

He said:

“We are thrilled with the GOLD Centre of Excellence award, and the recognition of the hard work in Cyber Security education for well over a decade from our entire ACE-CSE team and cyber security students here at Edinburgh Napier. It is amazing to be part of the NCSC academic community, and to work with the excellent NCSC team and the other ACE-CSE universities. A big thanks to NCSC for all their hard work in enabling this!”

Professor Bill Buchanan OBE, co-director of Edinburgh Napier’s ACE-CSE, said:

“For more than a decade we have created a lasting impact on the world of cyber security. This has included creating a supportive virtual environment for cyber security teaching and delivering content in a flexible way. Along with this, we have continually pushed the boundaries within our research and scaled this work to produce four highly successful spin-out companies. But, most of all, we have a core passion for cyber security in teaching, innovation and research. Our impact, we hope, we scale beyond  our walls and support scientific advancements, economic development and in protecting citizens from harm. protecting citizens from harm.”