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Smart, internet-connected devices such as home hubs, smartphones and wearable tech which gather and analyze data are referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). Cybersecurity is one of the major challenges faced by connected devices, especially edge computing. More than 40% of UK businesses have experienced a cybersecurity breach or attack in the last 12 months. With cyber threats constantly evolving, the best defense in the future is seen as developing innovative solutions that can work independently and protect against threats even during attacks.

Within its attempt to become a world leader in tackling cyber threats, the UK has recently launched a Center of National Excellence for the Internet of Things (IoT).

The move announced in January is part of the Government’s wider initiative, “Designing out’ cyber threats to businesses and personal data,” supports research into the design and development of hardware so that they will be more secure and resilient from the outset.

The PETRAS 2 (Privacy, Ethics, Trust, Reliability, Acceptability and Security) Center led by a UCL professor will provide a step-change in research associated with the collection and communication of data by the IoT.

The increased security and protections built into digital devices and online services will be attained with the help of up to £70 million in government investment and will be backed by industry investment, according to gov.uk.


The research focus will be on the opportunities and threats that arise from ‘edge’ computing, an innovative way to collect and analyse data in machine learning and AI technology. When implemented successfully, edge computing can improve network performance by reducing latency, which is the time taken for data to traverse a system.

“I anticipate productivity improvements and cost savings across a range of sectors including healthcare, transport and construction,” PETRAS Director Professor Jeremy Watson (UCL STEaPP) said. “In bringing together academics, industry technologists and government officials our research will create accessible and relevant knowledge with clearly visible impact (economic, societal or cultural) that will help to cement the UK’s position as a world leader in this area.”

PETRAS 2 is the second phase of the PETRAS program, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as part of the Security Digital Technologies at the Periphery program. This phase will strengthen the established platform, which since 2016 has coordinated and convened 11 universities and 110 industrial and government user partners in cross-disciplinary collaboration, as reported by sciencebusiness.net. PETRAS has created a shared research agenda which incorporates social and physical science challenges in equal measure.