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Airbus Launches Human Centric Cyber Security Accelerator

Airbus has launched a Human-Centric Cyber Security Accelerator Programme, with a dedicated team of Human Factors and Cognitive Psychology experts set to work in collaboration with the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and a range of other partners.

As part of this programme, the first of its kind within a commercial organisation, working within the broader Cyber Wales ecosystem, Airbus is seeking corporate partners to collaborate on research projects and share datasets, helping to make the UK one of the safest places to do business in cyberspace.

The launch follows the opening of the Airbus Cyber Innovation Hub, located in Newport, Wales, in April 2019 and reflects the company’s commitment to delivering world-class cyber security through a multi-disciplinary approach.

Dr Kevin Jones, Chief Information Security Officer of Airbus, said: “With increasingly sophisticated attacks being attempted every day, it simply isn’t possible to protect every user against every cyber-attack. We therefore need to think differently and identify ways for security to work with an organisation’s people, to better protect against an array of threats.

“With the right tools and approach, employees can be the strongest link in an organisation’s cyber defence. Our work aims to put people-centric thinking at the heart of an organisation’s security and we’re keen to hear from likeminded researchers and organisations who are interested in getting involved with our new Accelerator.”

Dr Ian Levy, Technical Director at the NCSC, said: “This is a welcome initiative which recognises the importance of a multidisciplinary approach that puts people at the centre of cyber security development.

“At the NCSC, we recognise the vital role employees have to play in an organisation’s cyber resilience and we are pleased to collaborate on this programme.”

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Historical data suggests that humans can often be vulnerable in the cyber security chain. Research found that, globally, a staggering 990 million records were exposed due to human error last year1. Moreover, Phishing emails now represent, on average, one out of every 200 emails received by users2.

The Accelerator will allow the company to study how employees interact with an organisation’s cyber security and digital systems, to better understand human cyber strengths and vulnerabilities in the workplace. It will also seek to challenge the common cyber security industry perception that ‘people are always the weakest link’ and will offer crucial insights into human-centric approaches that work with and engage people with the outcome of improving cyber security effectiveness.

The team, under the technical leadership of Dr Phillip Morgan and operating within Airbus’ Cyber Innovation Hub, will use a wide range of research studies to develop human-centric tools, techniques and methods tailored towards human strengths, including cognitive flexibility, self-awareness, and adaptability, to optimally protect employees against cyber-attack attempts, and achieve seamless interaction with physical (e.g. hardware- and software- based) cyber security systems.

Partnerships with academia and other commercial and government organisations are key to Airbus’s goal of identifying and developing emerging research and technology. The Accelerator will offer placements for qualifying university students, as well as establishing collaboration opportunities with research teams and businesses, including start-ups.

Resulting findings and initiatives will be tested and rolled out across Airbus and shared with select partner organisations, including affiliated universities, the NCSC and the Ministry of Defence so that a wide range of organisations can benefit.