A new £3.5 million research collaboration at the University of Bath will focus on the social science side of digital security, bridging the gap between security engineering challenges and the businesses and people who will implement them.

Led by Professor Adam Joinson, in the University’s School of Management, The DiScriBe Hub+ aims to reshape the ways in which social sciences and STEM disciplines work together to address the challenges of digital security by design in the 21st Century.

“Addressing the cybersecurity challenges we face now – as well as anticipating those we might face in the future – is a major undertaking that needs deep engagement and collaboration between social scientists and technical experts,” said Professor Joinson.

“This is a ground-breaking initiative that will be instrumental in facilitating this, as well as conducting our own fundamental research on the adoption of new secure hardware. We will also be commissioning over £1m of social science research to support the wider digital security by 4 challenge and working closely with industrial partners to ensure that digital security by design works with people, as well as at a technical level.”

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has provided £1.2 million, with the remaining £2.3 million funded from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s Digital Security by Design (DSbD) challenge.

The DSbD challenge aims to prevent hackers from remotely taking control of digital systems such as autonomous cars, personal devices, smart home security systems, an cyber attacks and data breaches across the online world, meaning people, business, and the nation’s critical infrastructure will be better protected.

Hub+ is one of two programmes of research and development announced by UK Research and Innovation to prevent the prevalence of damaging cyber security attacks.

£5.8 million was awarded to a consortium led by global technology platform company, THG Holdings plc, working with the University of Manchester and the University of Oxford to improve the security of e-commerce and enable the increased productivity and development of future world-leading services and products.

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “These projects are great examples of our world-class universities working with leading UK businesses to develop cutting-edge cyber security products to keep people safe online.

“We are making extra funding available to make sure we continue developing innovative cyber solutions, give consumers and industry confidence and boost our burgeoning digital economy.”

ESRC Executive Chair Professor Jennifer Rubin said: “The DiScriBe Hub+ award will enable advancement of digital security through a combined approach that includes understanding and addressing the economic and social factors that can otherwise frustrate technical solutions. By ensuring that economic and social researchers and engineers can work closely together, we will be able to support researchers and businesses in overcoming the data theft and cyber-attacks that are a significant global risk.”