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Online security gets government cash boost

Four British universities will share £3m funding from the DTI for the development of security software
Written by Wendy McAuliffe, Contributor

The e-Commerce Minister has granted £3m of funding for the development of security software to combat online fraud, and increase confidence in e-commerce.

Douglas Alexander presented the cash to four new research projects on Thursday -- each will be looking into new ways of making Internet transactions more secure for UK companies. Various research centres across the UK competed for funding, but the successful entrants were located in UMIST, Paisley, York and Manchester universities.

A spokesman at the Department for Trade and Industry said, "the broad emphasis is to develop cutting edge technology. With the exception of one project, the remaining three will be developing software that can be put under practical use -- this is why industry members are involved."

The four projects are designed to combat mobile phone crime, benefit fraud, develop software to improve the e-trading process, and to address consumer and industry barriers to e-commerce. The general parameters of research were set out by the DTI, but the winning proposals were selected by a panel of government and industry officials.

Each project has the backing of large technology and telecoms companies. The Dynamic Fraud Detection and Analysis Tools team, looking into software that will detect mobile phone call behaviour patterns, will partner with the cable operator NTL. Sun Microsystems will be adding its voice to the scheme investigating benefit fraud detection systems.

Twenty percent of the funding has been granted to the Human Issues in Security and Privacy for E-Commerce (HI-SPEC) project. This initiative is designed to address the privacy issues associated with certain security products, and will be drawing up "rules of trust" for e-commerce customers and retailers. It will also be working on software to meet the needs of next generation "privacy enhancing" technologies.

The four IT projects are the latest to be funded as part of the government's Management of Information (MI) Link Programme, aimed at companies wanting to collaborate with academic partners about fraud and security issues.

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