The Academy aims to bring together industry professionals, law enforcement and academics to develop innovative ideas through funded PhD research and teach students and professionals how to secure systems, respond to security breaches and investigate the work of hackers.
The launch – supported by leading cyber-security companies as well as the National Crime Agency (NCA) and Police Scotland – will integrate teaching, research and professional practice and create a platform for the discussion of key issues through a range of conferences, symposiums and workshops.
It will also help develop flexible training programmes with academic credits towards qualifications like Edinburgh Napier's GCHQ-certified MSc in advanced security and digital forensics.
Today's event includes representatives from the National Cyber Crime Unit, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Police Scotland and a range of businesses, including technology consultancy FarrPoint.
Neil Anderson, security director at FarrPoint, said: “Effective cyber security is critical for Scotland's national infrastructure and is only gaining in importance. Our economy is increasingly reliant on complex, inter-connected IT systems so we urgently need more highly skilled cyber-security experts to help us defend ourselves from the growing cyber-threat and protect Scotland's economy, particularly in the flourishing SME sector.”
Cormac Callanan, CEO of Aconite Internet Solutions, said: “Every day, we are disturbingly reminded about high profile attacks against the IT systems of companies who are household names. These attacks have significant financial and reputational impact on these companies and disrupt consumer trust and confidence which has taken years to create.”
James Kwaan of ISACA, an international professional association focused on IT governance, said it was vitally important to train more cyber security professionals. “The recent WEF (World Economic Forum) 2015 report shows cyber-security in the top right quadrant of global risks for the first time ever,” he said.
Professor Bill Buchanan, of Edinburgh Napier's School of Computing, said: “Cyber-security is one of the key challenges areas in this cyber- age, and it is something which will affect both our work and home life. As a university with two successful spin-outs in cyber security, we aim to provide extensive support for funding and access to entrepreneurs with a strong background in the area.”
But it's not all about business and entrepreneurship. “As world leaders debate the rights to privacy against the rights to detect threats against society, we also aim for the Cyber Academy to be the place in which everyone can get involved and discuss the key issues of this age,” he said.