Eight UK universities are to work with the GCHQ, the British government’s communications headquarters, to improve computer security in the country.

The universities, which will be called Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research, will benefit from an initial cash handout of £50,000, with further funding to follow.

The overall cost to the UK economy from cybercrime is £27 billion per year, according to the government.

The establishments are the University of Bristol, University of Southampton, Imperial College London, Lancaster University, Queen’s University Belfast, Royal Holloway, University College London and the University of Oxford.

The centres, due to open in July for a period of five years, aim to help government, businesses and consumers become more resilient to cyber crime.

They also aim to foster a pool of high quality graduates in the field of cyber security to tackle a wide range of cyber security issues, such as cybersquatting, phishing and online fraud.

Francis Maude, minister for cyber security, said, “We want to make the UK one of the most secure places in the world to do business, by investing in the best expertise to keep pace with technological change.

“These first eight centres will play a vital role in boosting research, expanding our cyber skills base and fostering innovation in the field.”

David Willetts, universities and science minister, said Britain has one of the largest online economies in the world and a growing cyber security sector.

“Supporting universities to carry out more research and training skilled graduates to work in the cyber security industry will help build further confidence in doing business online,” he said.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accountancy firm, recently said cybercrime is a growing threat in the UK financial services sector.

There were 18 per cent of frauds in which top-level management were involved in 2011, up from 12 per cent in 2009, it claimed.

UK universities get cybercrime funding
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