University links with global e-commerce player to prevent cyber security attacks

Dr Richard Allmendinger

Dr Richard Allmendinger and Dr Elvira Uyarra at Alliance Manchester Business School are to work with one of the world’s leading e-commerce businesses on a major research project to help prevent cyber security attacks.

Academics from the School, alongside computer scientists from the University of Manchester, will work on the research programme with Manchester-based online retail giant THG (The Hut Group), a global technology business and consumer brand owner.

THG has world-class technical and research teams who will be applying their findings to the cutting edge of UK and global digital security through the project.

The £5.8m project, known as Soteria, runs for three years and three months starting in January 2021.

Soteria is being funded by Innovate UK’s Digital Security by Design (DSbD) initiative which aims to prevent hackers from remotely taking control of digital systems such as autonomous cars, personal computers or smart home security systems, as well as protect businesses from cyber attacks and data breaches.

The Soteria project is also partnering with Oxford University and is one of two new research programmes announced by Innovate UK.

Research findings from projects such as these are much needed given that almost half of UK businesses reported cyber attacks or breaches last year.

The global e-commerce market is also expanding rapidly, a trend which has only been further accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Online retail in the UK accounted for about 20% of total retail spending in 2019 and is forecast to be well over 50% by 2030.

Dr Richard Allmendinger, business engagement lead at Alliance MBS and senior lecturer in data science, said: “It is fantastic to have been awarded this timely grant, and collaborate with THG, a global Manchester-based e-commerce giant, our colleagues from Computer Science, and Oxford University on the emerging technical and productivity-related challenges around cybersecurity.

“Alliance MBS is thrilled to be making use of its research expertise in decision science and innovation to lead the work strand around understanding and quantifying the impact of cyber attacks on productivity, and then using these insights to enable optimised business decisions.

“The Soteria project also provides a great opportunity to complement the work of the recently launched Productivity Institute at AMBS.”

Digital Security by Design challenge director, John Goodacre, said: “The project, led by THG, will provide a crucial demonstration of the security benefits DSbD technology can bring to the ecommerce industry.”