Cardiff and Airbus to tackle human errors in cyber security

SOURCE: Philipp Katzenberger/Unsplash
Things like phishing emails and virus threats often compromise cyber security due to human error.

By U2B Staff 

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Cardiff University experts are collaborating with the Airbus Cyber Innovation Hub in to explore how human characteristics play an important role in cyber security. 

The research will be conducted at the Human-Centric Cyber Security Accelerator based at the Airbus Cyber Innovation Hub in Newport. It will bring human factors, psychology experts, to collaborate with various other partners from Cardiff University and the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). 

Led by Cardiff University’s Dr Phillip Morgan from the School of Psychology, this collaboration combines the universities top-class industry expertise with Airbus’ own innovation teams and industry partners. 


As advanced as cyber security is and is continuing to become, efforts to keep various data private can be thwarted by something as simple as human error. Businesses are often put at risk due to misinformed or negligent employees. 

This suggests that humans themselves are the most vulnerable link in cyber security. 

Therefore, the research team at the new Airbus Accelerator aims to show that humans can contribute to a stronger cyber defence for businesses and organisations. This is done through effective interventions based on research tapping into the psyche of humans including their individual differences, adaptive cognition, and human-computer interaction. 

“The programme represents a ‘first of a kind’ research accelerator within a commercial organisation – a novel approach for the cyber security industry,” said Cardiff University Reader in Human Factors Dr Phillip Morgan in a report by Business News Wales. Dr Morgan is also the Technical Lead in Cyber Psychology and Human Factors at Airbus under secondment. 

“This is an exciting opportunity for the University because it allows us to work within Airbus, with a workforce of over 135,000 and with a team of over 800 security specialists, to shape and accelerate research programmes and projects in the critical area of human-centric cyber security.” 

“As well as funding my post as technical lead for the accelerator, Airbus have already invested in others from the School of Psychology at Cardiff University, including a Research Associate and two PhD students,” he added. 

Research studies will look into human behaviour towards technology. Source: Logan Weaver/Unsplash. 

Dr Morgan further elaborated that the team will come together to bring a wealth of experience in areas such as cyber psychology, human factors, cognitive science, human-robotic interaction, human-machine interface design, and AI. 

This partnership is supported by Airbus Endeavr Wales, a joint-initiative between Airbus and the Welsh Government to grow and support ground-breaking innovation in Wales. 

“We are seeking to challenge the common cyber security industry perception that people are always the weakest link, and will offer crucial insights into human-centric approaches that work with and engage people with the outcome of improving cyber security effectiveness,” added Dr Morgan. 

The research team involved will use a wide range of techniques for this initiative. They will develop human-centric tools, techniques and methods tailored towards human cyber strengths. This includes characteristics such as cognitive flexibility, self-awareness, and adaptability. 

The result of this research will eventually be able to optimally protect employees against cyber-attack attempts. 

Findings and initiatives from this collaboration will be tested and implemented across Airbus through existing training and awareness schemes. It will also be shared with partners such as affiliated universities and The National Cyber Security Centre and industry partners. 

This will hopefully trigger a paradigm shift throughout the cyber security community. 


“Cardiff University recently placed third in a UK-wide ranking of UK universities’ success in turning research into commercial success. Dr Morgan’s work is a further proof of our excellent relationship with Airbus, delivering real impact with our research which brings benefit to both Airbus and the University, and further highlights the strength of cyber security activity in Wales,”  said Cardiff University President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan. 

Initial research work at the Human-Centric Cyber Security Hub has been fully funded and will run for three years for the first phase. 

The accelerator will also offer placement opportunities for university students as well as collaborative opportunities with research teams, businesses and startups.