Visit from Vietnamese bank BCS/BIDV

The School of Computing was honoured to receive the CEO, Head of Research and six other visitors from BCS/BIDV bank (Vietnam) on Friday 14 September 2018, and also the CEO of WealthObjects Ltd to discuss potential collaborations in the areas of financial forecasting and financial securities.

The School of Computing was represented by Dr Michael Kampouridis, Professor Ian McLoughlin, and PhD student Mr Lam Pham. During the meeting, Dr Kampouridis presented the Data Science group’s work on machine learning applications for solving complex financial problems. BCS/BIDV was particularly interested in the group’s research on financial forecasting and the presentation was followed by a lengthy discussion on how machine learning can be used for financial forecasting in Vietnam.

Mr Hoai Do, the CEO of BCS/BIDV said that they were all “very impressed by the work and that applying machine learning to financial forecasting of Vietnamese securities would be something that would be highly beneficial for BCS/BIDV bank and its customers”.

The visit came about because the machine learning and AI research undertaken by the Data Science research group in Medway has a strong track record of application to FinTech (financial technology). The team believes that AI for FinTech is a growth research area with significant potential for real-world impact in the future.

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Think Kent video on the future of quantum computing

As part of the University of Kent Think Kent series – a collection of YouTube videos celebrating research with international impact at the University – Dr Carlos A. Perez-Delgado explores the future of quantum computing.

Google, Intel, IBM and NEC are just a few of the large, well-known companies that have announced large investments, and accomplishments, towards building large-scale quantum computers. But, what is a quantum computer?

In this talk Dr Carlos A. Perez-Delgado discusses what quantum computers are, how they work, and why we need to pay attention.

Carlos has over 10 years research experience in quantum computation. He holds a PhD from the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo, in Canada. He was previously affiliated with the Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore, in Singapore. His current research focus is on applications of quantum computation to cybersecurity.

The talk may be viewed below or on YouTube via the link:

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Placement student wins Digital Recognition Award

Sam Cordner-Matthews, a Computer Science with a Year in Industry student, has received a Digital Recognition Award while on placements at Schroders.

The Digital Recognition Awards are given to placement year students who have made a significant contribution to digital at Schroders.

Sam said ‘I was given the Digital Recognition Award for my effort in Schroders’ Digital Innovation Challenge after winning the Best Technology prize for our hackathon entry. It felt great to be recognised by senior people at such a large company, and just goes to show how much impact you can have whilst on a placement year.’

The School of Computing sends over 100 students on placements every year. The School has strong links with industry in Kent, nationally and internationally and has two dedicated placement officers who help students secure roles. The Industrial placement programme is available to all undergraduates and taught Master’s students in the School.
Sam joins several other students who have won awards while on placement including Jade Donaldson, Jordan Norris and Hubert Dziedziczak.

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Fortnite is setting a dangerous security trend


Jason Nurse, University of Kent

Cybercriminals have just been given yet another route to get malicious software (malware) onto your personal mobile devices. The hugely popular video game Fortnite has become one of the first major apps to bypass official app stores and encourage users to download its software directly.

In doing so, it’s also bypassing the security protections of the app stores and chipping away at a system that has worked reasonably well at keeping malware off people’s phones and tablets. And we’re already starting to see the dangerous results of this, as Fortnite’s installation method created a security vulnerability that may have opened up some users’ devices to hacking.

Fortnite’s maker, Epic Games, shocked the industry when it announced at the start of August that it would release the app directly to consumers instead of through the official Google Play store (although it’s still available through Apple’s App Store). The firm said this was to create a direct relationship with customers instead of depending on middlemen distributors. Google takes 30% of the money paid for any app or in-app purchase in the Play store.

This goes even further than the likes of Netflix, which recently confirmed it was testing a bypass of Apple’s iTunes billing system in 33 markets worldwide. This meant that some subscribers would be unable to pay using iTunes and instead would have to complete payments via Netflix’s website, reducing their engagement with the official Apple store.

Current estimates suggest that in the first half of 2018, users of the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store spent a combined US$34.4 billion on mobile apps and games. These official stores still represent the first port-of-call for millions of mobile users, and in return they have come to expect trustworthy, vetted, malware-free, high-quality apps.

The issue with attempts to bypass official stores is that they contradict recommended security best practice. Engaging with these stores is highly endorsed because of the added protection they offer. Apple, for instance, has a set of detailed guidelines that app submissions are checked against. Similarly, Google has a series of automated and manual techniques to vet apps.

Directing users away from these stores means less protection. And even worse, it stands to encourage a wider behaviour change. It sends the message to users that official app stores are no longer the primary trusted way to engage with apps.

Bypassing official app stores is a risky game.

Industry research has validated the importance of this advice time and time again, by revealing that third-party app sources – particularly on the Android platform – are often plagued with malware and can expose users and their data to a variety of security and privacy risks. According to the 2018 Symantec Threat Report, the vast majority (99.9%) of discovered mobile malware was found in third-party app stores. This doesn’t mean that official stores are free from malware but they do have the advantage of another set of specialists checking apps for potential problems.

As such, direct downloads create a substantially greater security risk. A perfect example of this was revealed recently when Google discovered a severe security vulnerability in the Fortnite installation process. This essentially made it possible for malicious apps to download and install anything on a user’s device without their permission – a cyber-security nightmare. Although Epic Games has since released a fix, it is very likely that many users have yet to install it, which means they may still be vulnerable.

Eroding good habits

A more long-term impact of the shift to direct downloads and engagement is the potential erosion of best security practice. For years, security awareness campaigns and guidance have emphasised the importance of sourcing apps only from official stores. This has been a difficult (yet crucial) task as security awareness campaigns are hard to get right, actually changing people’s behaviour is even harder, and attackers are constantly updating their tricks.

Encouraging or redirecting users away from traditional channels may well undo some of these ingrained secure habits. For example, the Fortnite installation process requires gamers to enable installations from unknown apps. But doing so puts users at higher risk. A user would need to navigate to this setting later to disable third-party installations as it does not reset automatically.

If more large app developers bypass the official stores in this way, it will almost certainly have an impact on people’s broader behaviours. This could result in the belief that trusted sources of apps are no longer necessary and that disabling protective security measures isn’t a problem. What’s more, it could create a higher temptation to look to third-party app stores for new apps or better deals – app channels that are, as mentioned, unfortunately infested with malware.

The ultimate result of these actions will be further malware infections and a higher compromise in privacy and security. Ordinary users will pay the costs of app developers’ desire to avoid the regulations and fees of the official stores.The Conversation

Jason Nurse, Assistant Professor in Cyber Security, University of Kent

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Computing makes international impact

Over the past year, the School of Computing has continued to have a global reach in its research, student recruitment and engagement activities, showcasing the truly international impact of the School.

Raising our profile through research

The government-run Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise ranked 100% of the School’s research impact ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ and the latest research in the School continues to have global reach:

Brain research

Filming with the British Council

Kent’s brain interface chosen to showcase UK research to China
Brain research within the School of Computing is being used to showcase UK research internationally. The University of Kent is one of six UK universities which will feature in a video and series of features which the British Council will share on Chinese social media channels in its ‘Study UK, Discover your Innovation’ campaign. Read more…

Leisure travellers photo

Travellers’ data

Kent to lead on £1.4m Government research project on protecting leisure travellers’ data
The University of Kent will lead one of 11 new government research projects, addressing challenges about “Trust, Identity, Privacy and Security in the Digital Economy”. The project’s overall aim is to develop a digital platform that will empower leisure travellers to better manage the sharing of their personal data. It also aims to foster new business opportunities for the travel and tourism industry through encouraging better (more transparent and effective) usage of travellers’ data. The project will work closely with a number of international, unfunded external partners, who will contribute to the project in various ways. Such partners include China Travel Service, Crossword Cybersecurity Ltd, Expedia (International), HAT Community Foundation (HCF), International Federation for IT and Travel & Tourism (IFITT), NCC Group, PredicSis, and World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). Read more…

New York Subway

Navigating the New York subway

Research shows how ‘navigational hazards’ in metro maps confuse travellers
Some features in metro maps cause passengers to make substantial mistakes in journey planning, but it may be possible to detect and rectify these with automated software, research being conducted at the University has indicated.
Peter B. Lloyd , a PhD student in the School of Computing, working alongside Dr Peter Rodgers in the same department, and Dr Maxwell J. Roberts, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Essex, is carrying out a series of studies on the New York City subway map. This is sometimes ranked as the most complex metro map in the world, but the results are expected to be applicable to other cities. Read more…

International partnerships and recruitment

We have built up international partnerships worldwide enabling international students to experience studying and working in the UK, as well as providing opportunities for home-students to work overseas.

IM and PR in Malaysia

Visiting Malaysia

Kent strengthens relations with institutions in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia
The University of Kent is building relationships with universities in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Professor Ian McLoughlin (Head of School at Medway) and Dr Palani Ramaswamy (Reader) from the School of Computing visited the region with the purpose of increasing the number of overseas students and raising Kent’s international profile. The academics also discussed research collaborations and provided support for current Kent exchange students in Malaysia. Read more…

Maintaining and growing links in Europe and beyond

EPITECh students pose in front of the we are European banner

EPITECH students on the Canterbury Campus

The School continued to attract students from our partner EPITECH, one of the biggest IT higher education institutions in France. The students from campuses throughout France, study at Kent on the Master’s programmes. The School has also continued its links with international employers and, once again, students will be working on a year in industry placement with industrial partners in California and Hong Kong, as well as new placements in Germany and Norway.

International engagement and cultural diversity

Our students have had a very successful year, making the most of the educational and extra-curricular opportunities available to them during their time at Kent…

summer schools

Students at the Paris summer school

Summer school opportunity for computing students
Students from the School of Computing can apply for free places on immersive summer schools in France. The three-week courses, taught in English, each explore a different theme in depth and allow students to immerse themselves in a different culture. Read more…


Big ideas

Sybil Mayard, global entrepreneur

Computer Science student competes in global competition
Masters student Sybil Mayard, from the School of Computing, has won this year’s University of Kent Big Ideas Competition with her business idea “Codable”. She will now go forward to compete in the Global Entrepreneur Challenge, which takes place at Virginia Tech University in the US. Read more…

Farhana Lisa and Marek - prize winner

Farhana Lisa and Marek Grzes

Computing Student wins Sciences Postgraduate Research Prize
International PhD student, Farhana Liza, from Bangladesh, has been selected as the Sciences Postgraduate Research Prize Winner for 2018. Farhana has won £500, towards costs relating to her research. The prize was presented formally at the Postgraduate Festival on the afternoon of Monday 18th June, followed by a dinner in Canterbury for the prize-winners. Read more…

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Seeing red – new research aims to reduce impacts

The aim of most research is to achieve impact, but a new research project in the School of Computing aims for the opposite – to reduce impacts.

Palaniappan Ramaswamy, Ian McLoughlin and Howard Bowman have been given an award of £195k from the Road Safety Trust for “Using Cognitive Responses to Assess and Improve Vehicle Brake Light Designs”. The grant’s aim is to assess current LED brake lights and to improve the designs for better braking performance and the use of brain responses.

More than half of all road accidents are caused by either lack of driver attention or insufficient gap between vehicles. Collision from the rear is the most common cause of road accidents in the UK, yet should be among the most avoidable.

Brake lights indicate to a following driver that a vehicle is slowing down or stopping, to provide a warning to prevent accidents from the rear. Lamps historically used incandescent bulbs, but LEDs are becoming increasingly common.

However, very little research has been conducted on assessing the effectiveness of brake light design, and almost none has considered the effect of their design on brain perception. Yet a brake light must be noticed before it can be acted upon, and with so many accidents caused by the inattention of following drivers, the perception of new light designs is extremely important.

Palani Ramaswamy said; ‘The research is potentially very impactful considering that the findings could help to reduce loss of lives due to road accidents. We will study the influence on LED brake lights design on how quickly the signal is noticed, enabling the future design of improved brake lights to reduce response times.’

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Kent recognised by government as a centre of cyber security research excellence

The University of Kent has achieved accreditation from the government as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACE-CSR).                                

The announcement, made by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, comes in recognition of Kent’s first-rate research in terms of both scale and impact. The University will now have the opportunity to bid for funding to develop cutting-edge research in cyber security, including at Doctoral level, as well as attend annual conferences and workshops organised by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

Responding to the announcement Shujun Li, Professor of Cyber Security and Director of the Kent Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Cyber Security (KirCCS) at the University of Kent, said:

‘We are excited to be given the ACE-CSR status as an acknowledgement of the excellent research in cyber security. Our research is truly interdisciplinary drawing on the expertise of colleagues from computer science and engineering as well as wider disciplines such as psychology, law, business and sociology.

‘Our ambition is to have one of the largest and most productive cyber security research centres in the UK by 2022 as well as helping to grow the next-generation cyber security researchers.’

The Kent Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Cyber Security (KirCCS) was established in 2012 to focus and showcase research in this area, particularly the promotion of interdisciplinary research across different disciplines.

It currently has 14 academics from the Universities’ School of Computing and the School of Engineering and Digital Arts as core members, with a further 30 academics from 10 different schools as Associate Members. In addition to its research activities in cyber security, it also conducts a wide range of technical and interdisciplinary activity in enterprise and innovation, teaching support, and public engagement.

Kent, along with King’s College London and Cardiff University, joins 14 other institutions in a scheme forming part of the Government’s National Cyber Security Strategy, which aims to make the UK the safest place to be online and also help to support the country’s digital economy.

Minister for Digital Margot James said:‘These universities are doing fantastic research in cyber security and they are rightly being recognised for their pioneering work.

‘We have some of the best minds in the world working in the field and thanks to this scheme they can now help shape our National Cyber Security Strategy and develop the talent and services of tomorrow.’

Chris Ensor, Deputy Director for Cyber Security Skills and Growth at the NCSC, said:‘The UK has world-class universities carrying out cutting edge research into all areas of cyber security.

‘It’s fantastic to see three more universities recognised as Academic Centres of Excellence and I’m especially pleased that we now have centres in all home nations. The NCSC looks forward to collaborating with these institutions to make the UK the safest place to live and work online.’

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Alumni listed in The Drum’s 50 under 30 Women in Digital 2018

Computer Science with a Year in Industry Alumna, Christine Berry (formerly Moore) has been listed in The Drum’s 50 under 30 Women in Digital 2018.

The Drum’s 50 under 30 women in Digital celebrates the outstanding level of female talent in the digital media and marketing industry, based on nominations from readers of The Drum and curated with the help of a panel of industry experts.

Christine graduated from Kent in 2012 having completed a Year in Industry at Acceleron Group as a web developer. She commented ‘The Year in Industry was incredibly useful and I’m so glad I did it. Not only did it increase my skill set in terms of programming languages and learning technical skills, it also enabled me to gain valuable confidence and business knowledge.’

Her first roles post university were at digital agencies across Kent, building responsive websites and software systems. She has always had a keen interest in design and completed a User Experience (UX) Specialist certification while working on UX projects for clients at digital agency Redspa, earning promotion to Head of Digital & UX.

Christine now works as Lead UX Designer at frozen meal company COOK, leading the business’s user experience design and front-end development team, and has been instrumental in increasing COOK’s online revenue year-on-year. As well as design and front-end development, her work spans customer research including data analysis, customer feedback surveys and user testing to ensure that every new design has a customer focus.

She said ‘being included in The Drum’s 50 Under 30 Women in Digital list is a real career highlight for me.’

Congratulations to Christine and we wish her every success in the future.

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New Lecturer joins Data Science Group

Dr Delaram Jarchi has joined the University of Kent as a lecturer in computing, in the School of Computing. She is a member of the Data Science group and is based at the Medway campus.

Delaram joins Kent from the University of Oxford where she was a senior researcher at the computational health informatics lab and a research member of the Wolfson College Oxford. Dr Jarchi’s research interests are body sensor network, biomedical signal processing and machine learning. Her recent research is focused on designing new algorithms and validation of commercial wearable sensors for robust estimation of physiological parameters such as heart rate, respiratory rate and blood oxygen saturation level in very unobtrusive ways. The objective of her research is to develop the next generation of smart wearables suitable for use in clinical settings. Her research is published in various IEEE journals such as IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, IEEE Transactions on Neural systems and rehabilitation engineering, IEEE Sensors, IEEE reviews in Biomedical Engineering.

Her research on accelerometery based estimation of breathing rate has been filed as a patent application (GB 1803994.1) and assigned to Oxford University Innovation Limited for commercialisation.

She is an associate member of the Bio Imaging and Signal Processing (BISP) technical committee, IEEE Signal Processing Society. She is an active reviewer for various conferences and journals such as ICASSP, IEEE-JBHI (one of the 2014 best reviewers) and Sensors. She is also in a signed agreement to serve as the second author of the Body Sensor Networks & Algorithm Design book; an imprint of John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Delaram completed a PhD in biomedical signal processing at the University of Surrey, she also holds an MSc in artificial intelligence and a BSc in computer engineering. She has been a postdoctoral researcher at Imperial College London, University of Manchester and University of Bristol prior to joining the University of Oxford.

Delaram said ‘Being a member of the Data Science group has further inspired me to contribute to the academic life at the School of computing during the next academic year. I’m really excited for this opportunity to be joining the School of Computing at Kent. It will be a great experience for me to collaborate with the very strong of team of academics at the Data Science group and to be able to further pursue my research in computing.’

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School bids farewell to Angela Doe

The School of Computing’s Administration Manager, Angela Doe, has retired from the School after 13 years in post.

Colleagues from around the University gathered to say their goodbyes and to thank Angela for her professional and personal support. Head of School, Professor Richard Jones thanked Angela for her professionalism and expertise in finance in particular as well as being ‘a thoroughly lovely person’.

Angela’s post-retirement plans include turning off the alarm clock!

The School’s new Administration Manager is Amanda Ollier who is already in post.

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