Cyber security system developed with Coventry Uni could prevent attacks on ships

Photo shows: Siraj Shaikh, co-founder of CyberOwl and Professor of Systems Security at the Institute for Future Transport and Cities at Coventry University
Cyber Owl Siraj Shaaikh

A new monitoring system developed to prevent attacks on ships could play a key role in detecting cyber-security threats.

Midlands-based CyberOwl has launched its first product, Medulla, following research carried out at Coventry University.

The technology monitors IT security to detect cyber threats on ships, acting as an early warning system.

The research, which has been patented, set out to develop a system to detect cyber security threats early.

The project was shortlisted for the Lloyd’s Science of Risk Prize under the Cyber Risk category.

Following the research, CyberOwl – a firm headquartered in Birmingham – was set up and now works across major international hubs for shipping in Singapore and Greece.

The company was one of just six across the UK to be given support from the National Cyber Security Centre’s accelerator programme, allowing it to scale up operations.

It has also been backed by the London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement to develop the technology.

The commercial product built on the research results allows for cyber threats to be detected across IT and Operational Technology (OT) systems.

Siraj Shaikh, co-founder of CyberOwl and Professor of Systems Security at the Institute for Future Transport and Cities (IFTC) at Coventry University, said the project could help tackle growing cyber security threats.

“The wider cyber security problem and threat is only growing,” he said.

“Not a week goes by without a story making the headlines about cyber-attacks.”

Professor Shaikh said he is confident the monitoring system developed to prevent cyber-attacks on ships can be transferred to other areas.

“A number of areas such as oil pipelines, factories and manufacturing facilities are subject to cyber-attacks,” he said.

“CyberOwl is very well placed to address some of these sectors as well. One area which is key for us is developing the technology for energy grids.

“We are very confident and well placed to solve some major problems.”

The research underlying CyberOwl took nearly a decade of modelling and analysis.

Professor Shaikh said the university played a key role in developing the research and setting up the business due to its technical expertise.

“Coventry University is a good place to solve complex problems,” he said.

“This is one example of it. The university offers exceptional support in areas around enterprise and commercialisation, supporting scientists like me on a commercial journey.”

Dr Paul Noon, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Innovation at Coventry University, said: “The research around CyberOwl is exciting and could play an important role in detecting cyber security threats across a range of sectors.

“The university is pleased to have played a part in the development of CyberOwl and the benefits it could bring in the future.”