Trusted Research: How safe is your research?

Overview

This was a discussion on the security precautions that academic institutions should take to prevent intellectual property being leaked to competitors or foreign governments. With the aim of preventing research and technologies being used for immoral or unethical means by external actors while still encouraging – and enhancing – collaboration both nationally and internationally.

Important links

CPNI’s advice on security best practices: https://www.cpni.gov.uk/managing-my-asset/leadership-in-security/board-security-passport

CPNI’s advice on what to include within a security considerations assessment: https://www.cpni.gov.uk/security-considerations-assessment

CPNI’s think before you link campaign: https://www.cpni.gov.uk/security-campaigns/think-you-link

CPNI’s Trusted research guidance for academia or industry: https://www.cpni.gov.uk/trusted-research

Any of CPNI’s guidance can be rebranded to fit your company/university branding.

Game of Pawns, FBI website: https://www.fbi.gov/video-repository/newss-game-of-pawns/view

Engineering council’s guidance on security: https://www.engc.org.uk/standards-guidance/guidance/guidance-on-security/

Proposed National security and investment bill 2019-2021: https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2019-21/nationalsecurityandinvestment.html

Key Points

Research, security-mindedness and transparency: David Sweeney, Executive Chair of UKRI, and Kelly Pullin, Head of Strategic Coordination at UKRI

Challenges:

  • Supporting universities and researchers to navigate the complex regulatory and ethical landscape while still encouraging international collaboration.
  • Ensuring the continued success of UK universities in research and innovation systems along with the success of international education in general.
  • Offering necessary protections and freedoms to institutions and companies in an environment of privacy concerns and cybersecurity challenges without compromising security.

Context:

  • National security and investment bill and understanding the potential implications of the bill.
  • The collective objective to protect UK research integrity and credibility.

Introductory points:

Nothing is risk free, the aim is to mitigate the risks to academic research and collaboration as best as possible. Universities and their industry partners need support in order to achieve this. However, we need to recognise research organisations’ autonomy and treat academic freedom as a necessity.

What is already in place?

  • Wealth of expertise in security across the sector
  • Guidance and information readily available
  • We try to be as informed as we can
  • There is access to respective agencies and links have been formed with government

What more is needed?

  • Greater coordination and sharing of information as appropriate – with an awareness of tensions with other policies
  • A transparency around challenges and threats
  • Clarity around expectations and requirements
  • Establishing strengthened and sensible processes to help academics navigate the security landscape

Current support:

  • From government, Department for International Trade (DIT), Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), National Cyber Security Centre (NSCS) and Centre for the protection of national infrastructure (CPNI)
  • UKRI
  • Other organisations include UUK/UUKi, ARMA, OECD and Jisc

By Ewan Radford, an undergraduate in Integrated Masters in Electronic Engineering with Space Systems at the University of Surrey.

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