NSF awards $36 million toward securing cyberspace

08/15/05

Cyber Trust continues to support research for trustworthy computing systems

The National Science Foundation (NSF) expects to make 36 new awards totaling $36 million through its 2005 Cyber Trust program. The awards, ranging from $200,000 to $7.5 million, include two new centers--one focused on the design and technology for trustworthy voting systems and the other on securing electric power grids.

Cyber Trust, the centerpiece of NSF's cybersecurity efforts, is based on a vision of society in which the computers and networks underlying national infrastructures, as well as in homes and offices, can be relied upon to work--even in the face of cyber attacks.

To build more trustworthy voting systems, Johns Hopkins University's Avi Rubin will lead "A Center for Correct, Usable, Reliable, Auditable and Transparent Elections" (ACCURATE). A collaborative project involving six institutions, ACCURATE will investigate software architectures, tamper-resistant hardware, cryptographic protocols and verification systems as applied to electronic voting systems. Additionally, ACCURATE will examine system usability and how public policy, in combination with technology, can better safeguard voting nationwide. The center's research and findings will also apply to other systems where end-to-end security is paramount.

The second collaborative center, led by Bill Sanders at the University of Illinois, will address the challenge of designing, building and validating a secure cyberinfrastructure for the next-generation electric power grid. The "Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid" (TCIP) project brings together four institutions to create technologies that will convey critical information to grid operators despite cyber attacks and accidental failures. The solutions created are expected to be adaptable for use in other critical infrastructure systems. Both the Department of Energy and the Department of Homeland Security have pledged to collaborate with NSF to fund and manage this effort.

"These two centers represent opportunities to find solutions for urgent national problems," said Carl Landwehr, coordinator of the Cyber Trust program. Each center will receive approximately $1.5 million per year for five years.

In addition to the centers, Cyber Trust expects to support 34 other projects concerned with improving the dependability and security of computer systems and networks. These other Cyber Trust projects include research to:

  • assure authenticity of digital media
  • develop automated defenses against malicious code attacks, including viruses, worms, and spyware
  • extract valuable information from large databases without compromising individual privacy
  • protect businesses from "denial-of-service" attacks
  • safeguard children's on-line transactions by increasing parental consent

    Source: Eurekalert & others

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