Information Security Group – Wikipedia

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Founded in 1990, the Information Security Group (ISG) is an academic department focusing on Information and Cyber Security within the Engineering, Physical Sciences and Mathematics School (EPMS) at Royal Holloway, University of London. It has around 25 established academic posts, 7 visiting Professors or Fellows and over 90 research students.[1] The Founder Director of the ISG was Professor Fred Piper, and the current director is Professor Chris Mitchell. Previous directors include Professors Peter Komisarczuk, Keith Martin, Keith Mayes and Peter Wild.

Royal Holloway’s Founder’s Building, where the ISG Smart Card and IoT Security Centre (SCC) is located.

In 1998 the ISG was awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of its work in the field of information security.[2] It has also been awarded the status of Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACE-CSR)[3] and hosts a Centre for Doctoral Training in cyber security.[4][5]

In 1992, the ISG introduced an MSc in information security, being the first university in the world to offer a postgraduate course in the subject.[6][7] In 2014 this course received full certification from GCHQ.[8] In 2017 it won the award for the Best Cyber Security Education Programme at SC Awards Europe 2017.[9]

Research topics addressed by the ISG include: the design and evaluation of cryptographic algorithms, protocols and key management; provable security; smart cards; RFID; electronic commerce; security management; mobile telecommunications security; authentication and identity management; cyber-physical systems; embedded security; Internet of Things (IoT); and human related aspects of cyber security. The current director of Research is Professor Stephen Wolthusen.

The ISG includes the Smart Card and IoT Security Centre (previously named Smart Card Centre, SCC) that was founded in October 2002 by Royal Holloway, Vodafone and Giesecke & Devrient, for training and research in the field of Smart cards, applications and related technologies: its research topics include RFID, Near Field Communication (NFC), mobile devices, IoT, and general embedded/implementation system security. In 2008, the SCC was commissioned to perform a counter expertise review of the OV-chipkaart by the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management.[10] The SCC has received support from a number of industrial partners, such as Orange Labs (UK), the UK Cards Association, Transport for London and ITSO. The current director of the Smart Card and IoT Security Centre is Dr. Konstantinos Markantonakis.

The ISG also includes a Systems Security Research Lab (S2Lab), which was created in 2014, to investigate how to protect systems from software related threats, such as malware[11] and botnets. The research in the lab covers many different Computer Science-related topics, such as operating systems, computer architecture, program analysis, and machine learning. The current Lab Leader is Dr. Lorenzo Cavallaro.

Current and former associated academics include Whitfield Diffie, Kenny Paterson, David Naccache, Michael Walker, Sean Murphy and Igor Muttik.[12]

Royal Holloway’s Information Security Group has been mentioned in popular media, most notably in the New York Times bestseller The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.[13]


  1. ^ “Royal Holloway | Staff Directory | Information Security home”. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  2. ^ “Previous Prize-winners”. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  3. ^ “Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research”. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  4. ^ “CDT in Cyber Security at Royal Holloway”. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  5. ^ correspondent, Sean Coughlan BBC News education (9 May 2013). “£7.5m university fund to train cybersecurity experts”. BBC News. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  6. ^ Davidson, Max (23 March 2012). “Information security: students aim to peer into the mind of the cyber thief”. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  7. ^ Ciechanowicz, Chez; Martin, Keith M.; Piper, Fred C.; Robshaw, Matthew J. B. (1 January 2003). Irvine, Cynthia; Armstrong, Helen (eds.). Ten Years of Information Security Masters Programmes. IFIP — The International Federation for Information Processing. Springer US. pp. 215–230. doi:10.1007/978-0-387-35694-5_21. ISBN 9781475764918.
  8. ^ “Developing the Cyber Experts of the future – GCHQ certifies Master’s Degrees in Cyber Security”. (Press release). Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  9. ^ “Royal Holloway wins Best Cyber Security Education Award”. 7 June 2017. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  10. ^ Waterstaat, Ministerie van Verkeer en. “20083843 Bijlage 1 OV Chipkaart ‘Counter Expertise’ Review of the TNO security analysis of the Dutch OV-Chipkaart”. (in Dutch). Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  11. ^ Campbell, MacGregor. “Phone invaders: The rise of mobile malware”. New Scientist. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  12. ^ “Honorary and visiting staff”. Information Security Group. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  13. ^ Macleod, Donald. “Write-up boost for Royal Holloway”. The Guardian. Retrieved 9 May 2019.

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