�30m centre to target secure technology

The Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) at Queen’s University Belfast has opened a £30m centre that aims to reinvent security on the Internet and build more intelligent CCTV systems.

Part funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Technology Strategy Board, the Centre for Secure Information Technologies will take a different approach to security to previous efforts by trying to tie together work on information security with physical security, according to Godfrey Gaston, operations director of ECIT.

The centre will, among other projects, extend on work performed by the group headed by Paul Miller, director of research for intelligent surveillance systems, on security for public transport. The group is two-thirds of the way into a project to help filter CCTV, prioritising only video that shows potential problems or incidents in progress.

Sakir Sezer, director of research for network security systems, claimed much more could be done to nip pernicious problems such as spam and denial-of-service (Dos) attacks within the routers that tie the network together.

“We believe DoS attacks would not be so serious if routers were built to cope with 100 per cent load under any conditions,” claimed Sezer. “You should be able to identify packets that are part of an attack and deal with them.”

By putting more intelligence into the routers, attacks could be stopped closer to their source. For example, routers close to access points could spot hijacked PCs using fake IP addresses, a common technique in DoS attacks to make maliciously sent packets tougher to spot.

Sezer said it is possible to go further and identify spam messages by looking for common patterns such as disguised URLs. The key to the approach is a processor architecture designed to look for patterns in text, something that is only done comparatively slowly in software today.

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