UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


Dr Alex Chung - Research Associate

Dr Alex Chung is a Research Associate working on the EPSRC-funded project, 'Evaluating Cyber Security Evidence for Policy Advice' (ECSEPA), led by Professor Madeline Carr, Associate Professor of Inter

Can you briefly describe what ECSEPA is about?

ECSEPA seeks to understand the challenges faced by UK policymakers working in cybersecurity and how we can support them in the policy process. We do this by looking at how they engage with evidence used for policymaking in cybersecurity through interviews and an online survey. Later this year, we will explore how policymakers make operational and strategic decisions during a table-top policy game using simulated cybersecurity crisis scenarios.

How is ECSEPA different to other research projects in cybersecurity?

Studies in cybersecurity research investigating the human factor often focus on end-users. Our project, however, examines issues surrounding the policy process, an aspect of human dimension that's rarely addressed.

Our project is also unique as it embodies STEaPP's 'mode of research' - interdisciplinary research that tackles real-world challenges through co-design, co-production, and action research by engaging with policy actors.

What do you find exciting about this project?

Being a part of a cutting-edge research project that will lead to real-world impact on governance policy, education, skills training and more is a huge privilege and goal of mine. Creating impactful research that is used and appreciated is a central aim in my career and having the opportunity to fulfil this through ECSEPA is brilliant. We are already seeing how our project is well-received across the UK Government and how it's generating positive influence.

For instance, several Government Departments have expressed interest in working with us to further extend the ECSEPA Mapping Exercise (undertaken by dedicated STEaPP Research Assistant Ms Sneha Dawda) by building capabilities that would allow it to be sustained and implemented as an internal tool for staff training and briefing within departments, and externally showcased to the public as an interactive educational resource.

We are confident that upon its completion, the research impact produced by ECSEPA in terms of its reach and significance will go well beyond academia.

What are you working on now to prepare for the next stage of the project?

We are now gearing up for the online survey to be sent out to policymakers and we will soon be working on building the policy crisis game. We are carrying out these tasks with our project partners in Coventry University where our project technical expertise is based. Professor Siraj Shaikh (project Co-Investigator) and Mr Atif Hussain (Research Assistant) have been developing a quantitative assessment model to evaluate the perceptions of cybersecurity evidence quality using qualitative metrics. This model will play a central role in the game design, including how we go about selecting evidence sources and fabricating evidence content for our fictitious cybersecurity crisis scenarios. Watch this space as our project is about to get very exciting!