A HIGH tech centre dedicated to cyber security has been opened at the University of Bradford, and one of its first projects it to look at how to deal with online radicalisation.
The Cyber Security Interdisciplinary Centre will see students using top technology to research the ever evolving online world to come up with solutions to deal with issues such as data protection and hacking.
The centre, which includes a large screen displaying, in real time, all the cyber attacks going on in the world at that moment, was today opened by Baroness Angela Harris, a Liberal Democrat Life Peer.
Guests at the opening were told that the centre will be involved in “ethical hacking” to test computer systems, and look at the ways people are drawn into online extremism.
The extremism project has been partly funded by the West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson, and also sees the university partnering with West Yorkshire Police and the North East Counter Terrorism Unit.
It is being led by Dr Andrea Cullen, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science, and Lorna Armitage, Lecturer in Computer Science, and will look at the problem from a different perspective than the police using different departments and experts from the university.
Dr Cullen told the Telegraph & Argus: “With online radicalisation we look at things with different eyes than the police. You can look at things from a technological issue and also look for social solutions.
“Our students and staff here could be looking at the same things the police are looking at and come up with completely different solutions. The police might be looking at radicalisation from the view of what is breaking the law, we may be looking at what is motivating these people.
“We have different experts looking at the same problems in lots of different ways. It is an issue that is really growing in importance.”
“With cyber security it is a field that is always changing, you have to keep learning, you can’t stand still.”
Opening the centre, Baroness Harris, who has worked with numerous police groups, said: “I’m thrilled to be here. Cyber security is something I have always pushed for, but for years there was little done, and very little money spent on it.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Clive Wain, Head of the North East CTU said “The opening of this innovative centre highlights the importance of partnership working to tackle radicalisation.
“We will seek to make the best use of the learning derived from this study in both the training of our staff and the delivery of Prevent across the forces of the North East region which we serve.”
A spokesperson for the Police and Crime Commissioner described the centre as “A real step forward in the fight against online crime.”
They added: “We all know how severely online radicalisation can impact our communities and the consequences can be truly devastating.
“Tackling radicalisation has its roots set firmly in partnership working. The research being undertaken will make a real difference in further understanding the behaviour and circumstances that surround an individual being radicalised, and even more crucially, the steps that can be taken by various organisations to prevent it and provide a counter narrative.”