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A Leicester computer scientist has been presented with a pair of international awards for her work in cybersecurity.

Maryleen (Ndubuaku) Amaizu is a PhD researcher based at the University of Leicester, and scooped the Awards Finalist and Excellence Award in Data Protection and Information Privacy at the Young CISO of the Year Awards earlier this month.

The awards, organised by the Young CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) Network, recognise the achievement of young professionals and early career researchers from across Africa.

Picture: University of Leicester

More than 180 computer science and cybersecurity practitioners were nominated for the awards, where Maryleen was also named a top three finalist for the Excellence in Disruptive and Emerging Technologies category. She said: “When the award nomination came from a Global CISO, I was pleasantly surprised at the extent to which my work is gaining momentum, even more so with wider applicability and recognition in a sector like cybersecurity. I think they took interest in how my research in cutting edge-enhanced analytics and federated learning reduce exposure to cloud data security risks, among other things.

“It reinforces to me the work I do is impacting the community and this inspires me to continue seeking innovative ways to provide the needed disruptive technologies that will keep the ecosystem safe.”

Maryleen’s research priorities include the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and machine learning in anomaly detection, which can be used in a number of different settings.

One such example includes detection of unusual object or activity in camera feeds – a topic on which she had also worked with education charity AccessEd on outreach with 15 to 17-year-olds.

Other uses of these tools include addressing speed and accuracy programmes in cybersecurity, for which Young CISO highlighted Maryleen’s research.

Hackers and other cyber criminals constantly change the way they will look to breach a digital, with the intention of disrupting business activities or stealing data and/or financial information.

Through the use of AI, researchers can develop systems which automatically detect anomalies in user behaviour in real-time, and look to actively block cyber attacks as they occur, beyond reliance on passive security measures.

Maryleen’s research is undertaken under the supervision of Professor Ashiq Anjum and Professor Lu Liu, Head of Leicester’s School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences.

Ashiq Anjum, Professor of Distributed Systems at the University of Leicester, added: “These awards are highly deserved by Maryleen, and all of us in the School wish to congratulate her on this terrific achievement.

“Distributed Edge Analytics exploit machine learning algorithms in novel ways for privacy preserving and performance critical applications. Edge enhanced AI is a powerful tool that can be used in countless different settings, and Maryleen’s work demonstrates exactly that. She is a real asset to our research network here at Leicester.”

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