Preventing damaging cyber attacks
Cyber attacks can cause huge disruption and loss – for example the WannaCry ransomware attack in May 2017 targeted around 200,000 computers across 150 countries, causing financial losses reaching approximately $4bn and causing the National Health Service in England and Scotland to turn away non-critical emergencies and divert ambulances as it tried to deal with the impact of the attack.
As part of work that has been ongoing since 2010, researchers from the Department of Mathematics led by Professor Nick Heard and Professor Niall Adams have developed statistical methods and data science techniques that have helped strengthen cyber security across systems used by hundreds of millions of people globally. They created bespoke statistical tools to analyse data streams from computer networks: filtering, modelling and then performing anomaly detection to identify statistical outliers.
The research group has collaborated with Los Alamos National Laboratory, Microsoft and EY, and these collaborations have led to joint research publications and patents, which have subsequently been adopted in cyber-security software benefiting users worldwide with improved security and safety.