The University of Surrey is delighted to welcome the 21st Information Security Conference to Guildford. My congratulations to General Chair Steve Schneider and Program Chairs Liqun Chen and Mark Manulis in having inspired you all to allow them to run the meeting here, and then having put together such an inviting programme. I believe this is only the second time this meeting has been to the UK, the first being 2003 in Bristol. Great to see you back.
At that early stage, research in Information Security was somewhat nascent at Surrey: the Cyber Security activity here started in 2004 with the establishment of the Formal Methods and Security research group within the Department of Computing.
By 2014, sufficient growth had ensured the critical mass needed to launch the Surrey Centre for Cyber Security, which was recognised by the UK’s GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) in 2015 as one of the national Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research, and our centre remains one of the UK’s largest security research groups. Entirely apt then that you find yourselves here on the edge of the leafy Surrey Hills.
And let me say a little more about the University too. Our Centre benefits from local synergies with several large concentrations of researchers – more than 175 of them in our leading 5G Innovation Centre with its live 5G test bed providing unique opportunities, and with around 125 researchers in our Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing, or CVSSP as it is affectionately known as, providing extensive research collaboration opportunities in block chain, distributed ledger technologies, AI in general and more. Then, there is the Surrey Space Centre, with more than 80 researchers driving small satellite design, realisation and mission control, again, presenting future opportunities in satellite security.
And let me draw to your attention another notable aspect of Surrey – our arts, humanities and social sciences researchers focussed on the impact on society of technology and of the digital era – on topics such as the ethics of information security, and also the business, economics, and sociology. As mathematicians, computer scientists and engineers, I do not need to tell you of the importance of connecting to the societal impacts of your discipline.
And those connections can always be made, sometimes in surprising ways. The security credentials of a famous 1930s and 40s Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr, an emigré from Austria, have again recently re-emerged. She filed a patent on frequency hopping CDMA, in collaboration with an orchestra leader. And Surrey’s own security roots go deep. One of our own first cohort of academics, Henryk Zygalski, was one of three Polish code breakers who worked on Enigma in Warsaw before WWII. Zygalski designed the perforated sheets that came to bear his name. Once war broke out, the three moved to France, but presented all their work to Alan Turing and team at Bletchley Park, which is not as widely known as it should be. Alan Turing’s nephew Dermot Turing has just released a book entitled X, Y & Z: The Real Story of How Enigma Was Broken, in which these facts are explained.
After the war, Zygalski remained in exile in the United Kingdom – firstly in Battersea at the ex-patriot Polish University, which became Battersea Polytechnic, which became the University of Surrey. Zygalski made the move from Battersea to this campus at its inception in 1966, but soon suffered a stroke and retired in 1968. As a lecturer in mathematical statistics during this period, he was prevented by the Official Secrets Act from speaking of his achievements in cryptology and, as far as we are aware, none of his colleagues ever knew!
And indeed, whilst a statue of Turing sits outside in the piazza, there is none yet for Zygalski.
Well, you can tell that information security is a topic that intrigues me! But, you should get on with your meeting! Let me leave you then with my best wishes for a successful event.
Can I remind all senior figures to remember what it was like when they were starting out, and be inclusive and generous, and can I remind all those starting out to be bold.
And to you all, be energetic, be enthusiastic, and be proud of your field and all your collective achievements, …and be open to experience and to learn. Enjoy!