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Alliance MBS links up with global e-commerce player to prevent cyber security attacks

richard allmendinger from alliance manchester business school

Elvira Urraya from Alliance Manchester Business School

Dr Richard Allmendinger and Dr Elvira Uyarra at Alliance MBS are to work with one of the world’s leading e-commerce businesses on a major research project to help prevent cyber security attacks.



Academics from the School, alongside computer scientists from the University of Manchester, will work on the research programme with Manchester-based THG which is a global technology business and consumer brand owner. THG has world-class technical and research teams who will be applying their findings to the cutting edge of UK and global digital security through the project.

Preventing cyberattacks

The £5.8m project, known as Soteria, runs for three years and three months starting in January 2021. Soteria is being funded by Innovate UK’s Digital Security by Design (DSbD) initiative which aims to prevent hackers from remotely taking control of digital systems such as autonomous cars, personal computers or smart home security systems, as well as protect businesses from cyber attacks and data breaches.

The Soteria project is also partnering with Oxford University and is one of two new research programmes announced by Innovate UK. Soteria will specifically work with Arm’s technology platform prototype Morello to understand how to improve security and enable the development of new cyber security services and products.

Research findings from projects such as these are much needed given that almost half of UK businesses reported cyber attacks or breaches last year. The global e-commerce market is also expanding rapidly, a trend which has only been further accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Online retail in the UK accounted for about 20% of total retail spending in 2019 and is forecast to be well over 50% by 2030.


Dr Richard Allmendinger, Business Engagement Lead at Alliance MBS and Senior Lecturer in Data Science, said: “It is fantastic to have been awarded this timely grant, and collaborate with THG, a global Manchester-based e-commerce giant, our colleagues from Computer Science, and Oxford University on the emerging technical and productivity-related challenges around cybersecurity.

“Alliance MBS is thrilled to be making use of its research expertise in decision science and innovation to lead the work strand around understanding and quantifying the impact of cyber attacks on productivity, and then using these insights to enable optimised business decisions. The Soteria project also provides a great opportunity to complement the work of the recently launched Productivity Institute at AMBS.”

Track record

Professor Mikel Luján, Arm/RAEng Research Chair and Royal Society Wolfson Fellow, said: “The University of Manchester has a world-leading track record collaborating with Arm Ltd., and as such is recognised as an Arm Center of Excellence. Soteria is a very exciting opportunity to contribute to the Morello platform developed by Arm Ltd. with our expertise in runtime systems (such as JVMs), software verification and computer engineering. The collaboration with THG provides a unique opportunity to transform the security foundations of the digital infrastructure of e-commerce as well as improve the security of UK companies.”

Professor Tom Melham, from Oxford University, added: “Soteria will demonstrate innovative extensions to the Morello capability architecture to toughen security protection for e-commerce and protect businesses. Oxford is delighted to bring its deep experience and expertise in formal verification to this unique project, both to advance our research and to improve security assurance for the technology.”

Digital Security by Design Challenge Director John Goodacre said: “The project led by THG will provide a crucial demonstration of the security benefits DSbD technology can bring to the ecommerce industry.”