University Innovation With Payfont Shortlisted for Cyber Security Innovation of the Year


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For the past few years, the research team at Edinburgh Napier University, within The Cyber Academy, has collaborated with Payfont on a Crypto Cloud (ADeCA): An Ultra-secure and Redundant Cloud Infrastructure using Secret Shares. The collaboration uses advanced state-of-the-art cryptography, and which allows data to be stored securely and robustly on cloud-based systems.

The work has lead to the creation of a large-scale secure Cloud infrastructure, and has been the source of submitted patents. In fact, it has been such a success that it was awarded the Scottish Innovation of the Year, and was a winner of the Innovation of the Year award for Edinburgh Napier University  Research Excellence Awards.

Now it is now a finalist for the Cyber Security Innovation of the Year category at the IET Innovation Awards 2016. The awards are highly competitive with over 300 entries to the awards from 28 countries, and where the winner will be awarded on 16 November at The Brewery in London.

Outline from Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards

The link-up between Edinburgh Napier and a Scottish cybersecurity start-up to create a world-first in online security has been named Innovation of the Year at the inaugural Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards. University academics Dr Lu Fan, Prof Bill Buchanan and Dr Owen Lo, supported by Dr Aileen Wood, worked with Payfont to create a 100 per cent secure cloud-based architecture which is already receiving international attention.

The technology, which is patent pending, fragments business and personal data, rendering it meaningless to outsiders. It uses advanced cryptography in order to create a cloud-based infrastructure which is both 100 per cent secure and which is robust against large-scale data outages/corruption.

The judges noted the significant market opportunities and potential for this type of cyber security software, highlighting the innovative approach of the product in a competitive, global market. They were also impressed by the amount of international interest in Payfont, in particular from financial services and healthcare markets, and that the company had created 14 jobs in a short space of time.

The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards are the first awards to celebrate all projects and partnerships that are created by all Scottish higher education and research institutions.

Margaret Burgess MSP, Minister for Housing and Welfare, presented the awards on the night.

She said: “I would like to congratulate all the participants and winners who have been recognised for their innovative work at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards. This award ceremony recognises the successes of recent business and academic collaborations and acknowledges the ingenuity, industry and creativity that is vital to the success of knowledge transfer activities. These projects are crucial for sustainable economic growth, and essential for improving productivity, competitiveness and growth in Scotland.”

Interface, which organised the awards, is a central contact connecting businesses from all sectors to Scotland’s 23 higher education and research institutes. It is a unique service designed to address the growing demand from organisations wanting to engage with academia.

Director of Interface Siobhán Jordan said: "We are thrilled at the success of the first Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards - from the high number and calibre of entries to the diversity of innovative projects. The awards are proof that partnerships between business and organisations and academics right across Scotland are flourishing."

The photograph above shows, left to right, Prof Bill Buchanan, Payfont’s Ian Paterson Brown, Minister for Housing and Welfare Margaret Burgess MSP and Jamie Hunter of Payfont.

Innovation of the Year (Napier Research Excellence Awards)

Prof Bill Buchanan and Dr Lu Fan, working within The Cyber Academy, won the Innovation of the year at Principal’s Edinburgh Napier Research Excellence Awards. 

The work relates to collaborative work with Payfont on ADeCA (Anonymised Distributed eCloud Architecture), and which implements advanced cryptography to produce security and robust cloud-based systems. It adds to the recent Innovation of the Year award presented at the Interface Knowledge Exchange awards.

It has had a significant impact, including:

  • Winner of the Innovation of the Year 2016 at the Interface Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards.
  • Basis for two successful bids for Scottish Enterprise SMART awards.
  • Basis for a new joint patent application (Payfont/Edinburgh Napier).
  • Basis for a new KTP.
  • Foundation for new industry-funded PhD studentships.
  • In a patent search by Scottish Enterprise (as part of a SMART submission), it was rated at the highest level possible, and praised for the high levels of innovation.
Payfont is a Scottish Cybersecurity start-up and worked with Edinburgh Napier University to develop a completely non-linear, dynamic generation of identity and data security that renders data compromise and identity theft virtually impossible statistically, even by the most sophisticated Cybercriminals.

The IP developed by the Edinburgh Napier University team uses data fragments and distributes data making it contextless and anonymous. 

Overall the security method was assessed independently by recognised Cybersecurity professionals and mathematicians as over 1,250 times more secure than best in class online payment security (at 99.9992% assurance). The innovation developed in this collaboration has been submitted as a patent and has been independently validated as having the highest possible level of innovation.
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Associated people

William Buchanan
Director of CDCS
+44 131 455 2759
Owen Lo
Research Fellow
+44 131 455
Lu Fan
Senior Research Fellow
+44 131 455 2438
Aileen Wood
Innovation Manager / Project Manager
+44 131 455 6283
Electronic information now plays a vital role in almost every aspect of our daily lives. So the need for a secure and trustworthy online infrastructure is more important than ever. without it, not only the growth of the internet but our personal interactions and the economy itself could be at risk.