UKRI invests £700k in digital security SMEs

The fund will be given to ten companies to help radically update the foundation of insecure digital computing infrastructure

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has awarded over £700,000 of funding to radically update the foundation of the insecure digital computing infrastructure.

The money came from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) through the Digital Security by Design (DSbD) programme and will be given to ten SMEs in the UK.

“We are working hand in glove with our world-class cyber security sector to build back better from the pandemic and make sure the UK is the safest place to be online,” said Matt Warman, the Digital Infrastructure minister.

“Thanks to government support these projects can create pioneering and secure technologies that will give people and businesses further confidence in our digital economy and help combat cyber criminals.”

The aim is to provide these businesses with the opportunity to assess how ARM’s technology platform prototype, the Morello project, can help them.

Morello focuses on new ways of designing CPU architecture to make processors more robust and deter some types of security breaches. It is a five year research programme funded by UKRI and hopes to produce a “Morello board”, which could be implemented in future hardware.

Ten UK SMEs have been awarded funding for these projects:

  • A feasibility study of a data security software product adopting DSbD technology: ANZEN Technology Systems Limited, London
  • A TEE-aware compartmentalisation framework based on DSbD: Verifoxx, London
  • assessing the viability of an open source DSbD desktop software ecosystem: Capabilities Limited, Carmarthenshire, Wales
  • CHERI standards compliance (CHERI Stone): DRISQ Ltd, Worcestershire
  • A data path development kit: Pytilia Limited, Northern Ireland
  • A multi-compartment computation protocol based on DSbD: MindHug LTD, Stowmarket, Suffolk.
  • A porting edge AI workflows to CHERI/Morello: OXON.Tech Ltd, Oxfordshire
  • quantum-resistant DSbD security leveraging MicroTokenisation: Valid Datum Limited, London
  • SecurlOT: IOETEC Limited, Sheffield
  • Trusted ring security for Morello Devices: Metrarc Limited, Colchester and Canterbury.

Róisín Meehan, founder of Verifoxx, said in a post on LinkedIn: “This funding allows us to embed our privacy-first approach in our trusted execution environment by testing out pioneering technologies we will get exclusive access to.

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“The results of our research will elevate the security of our identity verification to a new level while contributing to the wider transformation of the UK's digital computing infrastructure.”

At the end of January, at least two government services were knocked offline as a cyber attack hit UKRI, with the attackers managing to encrypt data belonging to the organisation too. The attack was thought to have been carried out through ransomware.

Last week it was reported that the UK government is looking to buy stakes in tech startups, spending as much as £375 million through its Future Fund. In mid-January, it also invested £28 million to trial innovative 5G use cases in nine nationwide projects.

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