Division of Cybersecurity

The world-renowned teaching centre for ethical hacking and cybersecurity.

About us

Our degrees are designed to support the development of technical skills and an offensive approach to cybersecurity. We are Abertay's centre for teaching, research and knowledge exchange in applied computer science and cybersecurity.

We provide exciting opportunities to collaborate closely with industry, lecturers and fellow students. You will devise and learn innovative methods to defend systems from cyber attacks. 

Our staff have substantial expertise in areas including cybersecurity, ethical hacking, penetration testing, digital forensics, human-computer interaction, usable security, IoT, secure software development, artificial intelligence, and parallel programming.

Abertay was the first university to offer degrees in Ethical Hacking and Computer Games Technology, and our degrees maintain an excellent reputation for quality and employability.

Most of our teaching is laboratory-based, and our students have access to well-equipped specialist teaching laboratories for ethical hacking, networking, the Internet of Things and general software development.

We also have close ties to industry in our areas of expertise; our staff and students provide cybersecurity and usability consultancy to businesses around the world.

Head of Division

Dr Natalie Coull

Headshot of Natalie Coull

Study with us

Postgraduate Taught Degrees

The Division’s MSc in Ethical Hacking and Cybersecurity course equips students with the skills and expertise needed to enter the cyber security industry. Topics include

  • Ethical Hacking.
  • Digital Forensics.
  • Penetration Testing.
  • Information & Network Security Management.

Postgraduate Research Areas

Please see below for our areas of research focus in this Division.

Or, if you are looking for something specific, visit the full list of university-wide research opportunities in our course list.


The Division of Cybersecurity offers a specialist computing environment for teaching and research in Cybersecurity.

The Netlab and The Hack Lab are designed to enable  combined lecturing and laboratory practical work. They have an isolated, reconfigurable network and dedicated internet connection.

The Hack Lab is isolated from the main university network, allowing our students to experiment with all aspects of ethical hacking in a safe, controlled environment.

We also use Computing Room 2021. This room has a specialist high power WIFI router to enable the connection Of Internet of Things-enabled devices.  This router has specific facilities not available elsewhere in the University.  The room also has controlled access to allow students to carry out project work, and leave the equipment set up and running if required.

Ethical Hacking Laboratory - room full of Desktop computers

Our Research

Cybersecurity is one of three Divisions in the School of Design and Informatics.

We have developed strong links with government, Police and industry to deploy socio-technical solutions to enhance cybersecurity through collaboration on a range of research projects including improving the security of SMEs, training in cybercrime response using games technologies, and cybersecurity into the Software Development Lifecycle.

The School of Design and Informatics hosts:

InGAME (Innovation for Games and Media Enterprise) the UK Creative Cluster for Computer Games, which provides a R&D environment for new and experimental creative content, products, services and experiences;

The Emergent Technology Centre which will house a 5G network core (part of a £4M 5G R&D Testbed partnership with Dundee City Council and Scottish Futures Trust) - the first Scottish innovation hub to support R&D on enabling technologies for applications where mobile plays a key role (e.g., service delivery, Internet of Things); and

The cyberQuarter (£18.2M Tay Cities Deal) which brings together academia and industry to: create new products, markets and services; catalyse the growth of a Cybersecurity cluster that will retain and attract talent and investment; and make businesses and citizens more cyber-resilient.

Research in the Division is a major contributor to the Security, Equality & Social Justice Challenge Space, and is structured into four overlapping areas:

  • Responding to prevailing challenges of system security.
  • Vulnerability detection and the threats introduced by Internet-connected devices.
  • The usability of security prevention measures.
  • Using visualisation techniques to improve security.

Secure Environments and Intrusion Detection

Any computer network is potentially vulnerable to cyber attacks. Every network has an attack surface, i.e., the set of devices on the network and the ways in which the surface may be attacked, and threats can occur at any point on that landscape.

In addition to this general threat, many common household devices are now being connected to the Internet, and newly developed devices are also being introduced into people's homes. The number of devices connected to the Internet is expected to reach 75 billion by 2025. In a number of cases, these devices have security flaws that can compromise the privacy of the owners or can be subverted to be used as a means to attack other systems.

We are developing novel solutions to effect pervasive security and privacy for networks. For example, we have used blockchain and deep learning algorithms to build an intrusion detection system able to detect cyber attacks. We have used machine learning to detect anomalous events including hardware failures and denial of service attacks in critical infrastructures]. A key challenge in machine learning for intrusion detection systems is the availability of suitable training data sets at a scale needed for threat classification. We have developed a new intrusion detection system model, based on Siamese Networks, that exploits data pair similarities rather than class discriminative features to reduce the size of data needed for training machine learning algorithms.

In our digital forensics research, we are exploiting the off-the-shelf massively parallel architectures of GPUs to substantially improve on existing digital forensics algorithm performance. In work with healthcare partners, we are supporting development of a new national data platform for AI classification of clinical images. Abertay’s role is to inform implementation of cybersecurity tools to guarantee patient confidentiality.

Abertay’s Emergent Technology Centre houses a 5G pilot core and Abertay has access to a 5G R&D Testbed in Slessor Gardens at the Dundee Waterfront. Working with colleagues in the Divisions of Games Technology and Mathematics together with Games and Arts, we will explore the security issues surrounding 5G connectivity in games and interactive experiences. Key areas of investigation are machine learning for network management, dynamical systems modelling, the Internet of Things and 5G-backed interactive experiences.

Human-Centred Security

Cybersecurity is in part a technical challenge and in part a human challenge: successful security measures depend on the interplay between users and security technology in societal and industrial contexts.

A key aspect of cybersecurity is encouraging users to behave safely online. Many online activities attract risks; some of these are known to the user and some are not. We have drawn on techniques from nudge theory and affective computing to encourage safe behaviour online. We have successfully nudged users through visual cues in a web browser into choosing longer and stronger passwords during a system enrolment task. We have developed a system that automatically detects risky online behaviour and provides feedback on risky behaviour in real time.

We have also explored security awareness and adoption of security controls by smart phone users and recommend that user education using a simple, non-technical design is key to encourage security awareness and adoption of security controls, especially in emerging markets. In other education-facing research, we are working with primary school teachers and Education Scotland to develop teaching materials to support cybersecurity in the curriculum.

Extending human-centred security beyond cybersecurity, and in partnership with industry we have investigated the perceived influence of social presence at self-service checkouts by staff and its perceived effect on dishonest customer behaviour. Our findings show that the perceived motivational and situational factors contributing to theft are complex, and surveillance in its current form does not appear to provide a sufficient social presence to prevent potential theft at self-service checkouts.

Abertay’s Emergent Technology Centre houses a 5G pilot core and Abertay has access to a 5G R&D Testbed in Slessor Gardens at the Dundee Waterfront. Working with colleagues in the Divisions of Games Technology and Mathematics together with Games and Arts, we will explore the security awareness and usability challenges surrounding 5G connectivity in games and interactive experiences. Key areas of investigation are data management and the immersive potential of 5G-backed interactive experiences.

Job Opportunities


For Job Openings, including Research Fellowships in our School, view the job search section on our website.

For PhD Studentships in any of our Subject areas, check out the Funded research projects and Postgraduate Research Funding sections.


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