Launch of CYBERCAT, an interuniversity research centre for cybersecurity and data privacy

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Miquel Soriano, third from the right, with the representatives of the seven research groups of the six Catalan universities during the presentation of CYBERCAT

The research groups of CYBERCAT have more than one hundred researchers. In the last five years this critical mass of knowledge has carried out more than 35 competitive projects, attracted more than €6 million in research funds and published more than 400 articles in indexed journals.

The Cybersecurity Research Centre of Catalonia (CYBERCAT) was presented in Barcelona on 8 May. It was set up by seven research groups from six Catalan universities, among them the UPC’s Information Security Group (ISG) and Mathematics Applied to Cryptography (MAK) group. CYBERCAT is intended to become a reference centre that combines the knowledge of all the research groups working in cybersecurity in Catalonia, with over a hundred researchers. The other participating universities are the UAB, the UdL, the UOC, the UPF and the URV, which is the coordinator.

May 31, 2018

Cybersecurity is one of society’s priorities: communication and information systems are fundamental and their failure can bring life practically to a standstill. In recent years, the number of computer attacks and thefts of personal data has been increasing day by day, and companies are aware that security is very important for their reputation. The number of jobs and the demand for experts in this area is also growing.

CYBERCAT, presented in Barcelona on 8 May, is an interuniversity research centre formed by six universities: the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), the Universitat de Lleida (UdL), the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) and the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), which is the coordinator. CYBERCAT is formed by the Catalan research groups that work in information security and privacy technologies, with around a hundred of the country's top researchers in the field.

This is the first Catalan research centre that brings together all the groups performing research in security and privacy, and it is intended to become a national and international reference centre. Its goals are to obtain financing, to be more visible and to be a platform for dialogue with industry and the government. It also wishes to formalise and increase collaboration in doctoral programmes and high-level training in these fields, and to consolidate and strengthen research relationships between the participating universities.

Building on joint work
The researchers who are part of the research groups already work together on scientific articles, in multilateral research projects and in the co-supervision of theses. These relationships will be strengthened thanks to CYBERCAT. The initiatives of the researchers include projects related to smart cities, which mainly deal with traffic mobility and citizen participation; projects related to cryptography and data anonymisation, to facilitate compliance with the new European General Data Protection Regulation; projects related to security and privacy of localisation; and projects related to the Internet of Things.

The research of CYBERCAT is based on two main criteria: minimising the information collected from users in order to combine security with privacy, and designing security protocols that are beneficial for all parties (co-utility), so that no one is tempted to breach them.

The new centre is starting out with seven research groups, co-ordinated by CRISES, of the URV, led by Josep Domingo-Ferrer. The UPC is represented by the Information Security Group (ISG), coordinated by Miquel Soriano, and the Mathematics Applied to Cryptography (MAK) group, led by Jorge Villar.

The research groups of the other universities involved are the Cryptography & Graphs Research Group (C&G) of the UdL, coordinated by Josep M. Miret; the K-ryptography and Information Security for Open Networks (KISON) group of the UOC, coordinated by David Megías; the Security of Networks and Distributed Application (SENDA) group of the UAB, coordinated by Jordi Herrera, and the Wireless Communications (WICOM) group of the UPF, coordinated by Vanesa Daza.