New report examines most popular academic cybersecurity research topics

11 Jan 2019

Image: © ivan kurmyshov/

New insights from almost 1,200 cybersecurity research projects shows the increasing focus on privacy.

The increase in cyberthreat volume and type, its effect on geopolitics and concerns around personal data are all factors that are contributing to a growing interest in cybersecurity on a global scale. Academics all over the world are engaging in fascinating research projects, many of which will have serious applications once commercialised.

One company that specialises in cybersecurity technology commercialisation, Crossword, recently released insights from a global review of academic cybersecurity research. Examining nearly 1,200 global projects, the new database uncovered several trends by comparing the periods from January 2008 to 2013 with July 2013 to December of last year.

Cybersecurity research trends

Privacy-related projects have increased by 183pc in recent years, according to the research, while more than 100 projects examining cyber-physical systems were noted with US researchers particularly focused on securing critical infrastructure. This encompasses areas such as power grid security and smart city infrastructure.

Of course, IoT-related projects have increased by 123pc in recent years and, with the advent of quantum computing on the horizon, a notable increase in cryptography projects was also recorded. There are currently 52 global projects with a cryptographic focus, and at least 39 current live EU projects feature cryptographic elements.

Different regions, different priorities

Significant differences can also be seen between regions. The EU appears distinctly focused on minimising exposure to cybersecurity risk for SMEs. When compared with other regions, the US has a greater focus on the human component of cybersecurity. Other US top project funding areas include securing the cloud, cybercrime and the privacy of big data sets (as applied to the scientific research community).

In the UK, the leading research verticals are critical infrastructure and securing the health sector with 11 current projects each. Current funding across UK projects exceeds £70m, with both quantum and IoT-related projects more than doubling over five years.

Tom Ilube, CEO at Crossword Cybersecurity, said: “The need to protect critical infrastructure has never been stronger as technology becomes more deeply embedded in every aspect of our daily lives.

“However, one apparent omission is research solely focused on the application of AI techniques to complex cybersecurity problems. We hope to see more of that in the future, as the industry works to stay ahead of the constantly evolving cybersecurity landscape.”

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects