A COLLABORATION between the University of Huddersfield and a leading cybersecurity firm which has led to the UK’s first evidence-based, psychologically informed cybersecurity training programme, designed specifically to help companies reduce the risk of cyber security attacks, has been hailed by the Government-body Innovate UK.
The two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Bob’s Business, who originated in Barnsley, culminated earlier this year with KTP Associate Sathpal Panesar and was graded ‘Very Good’ – one of the top two grades available - following an assessment by an independent grading panel.
Sathpal, who obtained both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in psychology from the University, helped Bob’s Business advance their understanding of phishing emails and when and why people engage with them by harnessing the science of psychology.
Despite the obstacles created from the global pandemic and the proceeding Lockdown, the project was able to be completed without much delay. Bob’s Business now have the capacity to use behavioural analytics to develop and inform bespoke training packages tailored to their clients. The training can cut the risk of employees opening and acting on fake emails that could end up costing businesses thousands of pounds.
KTPs are part-funded by the Government-backed body Innovate UK. As part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, they drive productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base.
Bob’s Business has a unique approach to cyber security awareness training with its engaging training modules which are used to influence user behaviour. The KTP assisted in enhancing this innovative approach by utilising the science of psychology and building on the combination of education and communication methods.
One of the services they offer, ‘Bob's Phishing’, is simulated phishing training that brings common cyber threat scenarios to life, helping firms and their staff to identify and reduce the risks.
The company has developed a large range of multi-complex templates that closely imitate real-life phishing attacks. These are sent to employees to assess when and why they click on harmful web hyperlinks in phishing emails.
It was these simulations which provided Sathpal with a database of over 70,000 real life case studies that he was able to use when exploring the psychological causes of risky cyber security behaviour. Having use of such a valuable resource of information was one of the contributing factors to the success and timely completion of the project.
The University’s KTP Business Development Manager, Laura Forester-Green, congratulated everyone involved in the project, from its inception two years ago in 2019, through to its completion earlier this year.
“Receiving one of the top two grades is a great achievement for the project, especially given the constraints and complexities due to the pandemic,” she said.
Receiving one of the highest grades available opens the door for participants to compete in the prestigious ‘KTP Best of the Best Awards’, an annual showcase celebrating the very best ‘Knowledge Transfer Partnerships’ and all they have achieved.